By 4-3 Margin, Parks Officials Support October Trial for Caffeine & Carburetors at Waveny


Despite some reservations about traffic, use of Waveny and the extent to which Caffeine & Carburetors serves New Canaan, parks officials on Wednesday voted 4-3 in favor of a trial event at the treasured town park, saying the auto enthusiast gathering has been well-organized, responsibly run and family-friendly.

Pending approval by a special events committee, the hugely popular, grassroots celebration of classic and specialty cars will be held on the morning of Sunday, Oct. 19 at Waveny. The Park & Recreation Commission, whose vote amounts to a recommendation, would then review how the event went at its own November meeting.

Much of the discussion at Wednesday’s Park & Rec meeting centered on the question of whether Caffeine & Carburetors will still help local merchants if it’s removed from the downtown—birthplace of the event and the only New Canaan location it’s known, though Pine and Elm Streets logistically can handle no more than two events per year, officials have agreed.

Commissioner Allison Freeman said it’s worth giving Caffeine & Carburetors a tryout at Waveny and that she believed it would benefit buisnesses downtown, in part because when people travel somewhere for an event, they’ll head into the host town to eat when they’re hungry.

“We didn’t know the Pop-Up Park was going to work until we tried it,” Freeman said at the meeting, held in the Douglas Room at Lapham Community Center.

Of Caffeine & Carburetors, she said: “It’s just a fun, family activity and it sounds like it’s well under control by our police force and by Doug [Zumbach] and his crew … I just think it’s something we should try. It doesn’t sound like we’re going to be trampling on all the fields and everything.”

Police Capt. Vincent DeMaio said at the meeting that, should the town support an event at Waveny, he would draft an operational plan.

Police, Zumbach’s volunteers and CERT officials staff the event, whose growing following this year prompted officials to expand it beyond Pine Street to include Elm as well. After thousands attended events in April and May, requiring more CERT and police officers than realistically would be available the originally planned six times per year, officials hit pause on Caffeine & Carburetors. It resumed Sunday.

Zumbach, who launched the event four years ago as a casual gathering with just a few dozen cars in front of his eponymous gourmet coffee shop on Pine Street—and who drew wide praise from parks officials for his generous, personal support of Caffeine & Carburetors—said it’s important to him that it benefit fellow New Canaan businesses.

“I’m a retailer,” Zumbach said. “I want people in my community. I think the more exposure New Canaan, Connecticut has, the better for it.”

Zumbach said he would hope ultimately to hold four events per year—two downtown and two at Waveny.

The Park & Recreation Commission at its Sept. 9, 2014 meeting. In the foreground are Allison Freeman and Matt Konspore. Credit: Michael Dinan

The Park & Recreation Commission at its Sept. 10, 2014 meeting. In the foreground are Allison Freeman and Matt Konspore. Credit: Michael Dinan

Though the board roundly praised Zumbach’s efforts, not every member supported the idea of trying out Caffeine & Carburetors at Waveny as opposed to, say, the New Canaan High School parking lot. (DeMaio said the Lumberyard lot would cause the same level of traffic congestion downtown that already requires prohibitively high police and CERT staffing.)

Commission Chair Sally Campbell said she’d like to see hard data on how the event has benefitted merchants in the past and to hear from the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce. Campbell also questioned whether it is appropriate to set a precedent where a non-town event is hosted at Waveny and no money comes in to support the park itself and the event has “no benefit to the town other than recognition of the New Canaan name.”

Campbell further said she didn’t like the idea of holding an event at Waveny where there’s no size limit imposed, such as through an advance registration system.

“I’m not comfortable having an event where you don’t know how many people are coming,” Campbell said.

Zumbach, who pays out of pocket for police, insurance and port-a-potties, said he and DeMaio have walked the Waveny property with an eye on how many cars it could handle and that it is big enough.

Asked whether Waveny logistically—in terms of parking as well as other schedules and uses—could handle the October Caffeine & Carburetors, Recreation Director Steve Benko said he thought so and that they’d learn more after trying it.

Commissioner Matt Konspore, who proposed the first motion at the meeting in favor of a Caffeine & Carburetors trial at Waveny, said: “I think we’ve got to try it.”

Commissioner Andrew Gordon told Zumbach that the more he can demonstrate that the event benefits the town and business community, “the easier the discussion is going to be on this committee in November.”

“That is really one the messages, is that if it benefits the town by using Waveny, then that is an easier discussion point than if it’s just using Waveny as a venue.”

​Voting in favor of the Waveny trial were commissioners Konspore, Freeman, Gordon and Francesca Segalas; against were Campbell, Jason Milligan and Joan Guzzetti. Softball slugger Rich Kilbride, who phoned in to the meeting and was on speaker for nearly all of it, said he would have voted against the motion.

Here’s a slideshow from the May Caffeine & Carburetors:

[acx_slideshow name=”May 6 2014 Caffeine and Carburetors”]

[Editor’s Note: This article originally referred to a Park & Recreation Commission meeting on ‘Monday’—it was Wednesday and the story has been updated.]

11 thoughts on “By 4-3 Margin, Parks Officials Support October Trial for Caffeine & Carburetors at Waveny

  1. It’s worth noting that Waveny’s intended purpose is for healthful recreation in a natural setting. While I have enjoyed Caffeine & Carburetors in town, I wonder about the noise and disruption to park users. Idling is against the law in our state. Who will enforce this at Waveny on those days?

  2. This is a terrible idea. Early Oct. at Waveny is a nice time for a walk or picnic but not for a bunch of cars with their hoods up. It’s going to be chaos getting in and out of there. Enough of this event, it serves no purpose.

  3. This is a wonderful, free, public event sponsored (and according to this article, paid for) by one of the premier independent, local business owners in our town. C&C draws people to our town at a time when New Canaan’s streets are empty – and our retailers, restaurants and businesses are nicely showcased as attendees walk around.
    Parking is never an issue as most of the attendees are participants in the event and many take the train to get here.
    With Waveny’s open field, multiple public bathrooms and ample nearby parking, the only downside to C&C being in the park is that most from New Canaan will now have to drive and park in order to attend.
    If C&C is not an appropriate use of Waveny, perhaps the Town Council needs to rethink the annual 4th of July, Summer Concert Series and income producing event rentals of Waveny House. Are these events “healthful recreation in an appropriate setting”?
    The entire town, Chamber of Commerce and town council should be praising and thanking Doug Zumbach for his efforts and should be ashamed of themselves for opposing this event.

    • You say, “The entire town, Chamber of Commerce and town council should be . . . ashamed of themselves for opposing this event.”

      This was a vote of the Parks and Rec Commission only.

      I think everybody supports C&C. They are only debating how can we safely manage this event so that it remains a positive reflection on our town, benefitting the merchants and residents.

  4. Not taking a position on the merits whatsoever – for the record, I am a huge supporter of Doug Zumbach’s terrific C&C event – but I am concerned that Commissioner Kilbride was denied the right to vote simply because he was attending by phone.

    In my opinion, we need to address this and make sure that telephonic participation for our town meetings throughout New Canaan is acceptable. It makes our government more transparent, more inclusive, and more responsive.

  5. C&C is a great opurtinity for New Canaan and for my resturant. To see all of the people on the streets early on a Sunday with there cars is amazing. We are very lucky to Have Doug Zumbach and his crew to arrange suck a great event. I personally hope that it would continue in town but will support it at Waveny. Please let me know how I can be apart of it.

    Chef Luis

  6. I do not know Doug Zumbach nor do I own or classic car, but, I have enjoyed perusing through the automobiles that attend Caffeine and Carburetors and while my attention is often drawn towards a beautiful vehicle of a make and model that I have never seen, my attention is often drawn back towards what I really enjoy about the event when I see a father with his young son on his shoulders pointing at a car that equally excites both the father and the boy. At a time when people isolate themselves from their community and children make virtual friends playing virtual games, the scene that repeats itself at every Caffeine and Carburetor event of the boy on his father’s shoulders should not be relegated to a Norman Rockwell painting and this community owes Doug Zumback a degree of gratitude for the event that he puts on and for the memories that the boy will have after his father eventually passes.

    It has been a perversion of the event for people to try to quantify it in financial terms and the dollars that it brings to town. The event has filled downtown New Canaan stores with patrons at a time in the morning when the shops and restaurants would otherwise be vacant, but is financial return going to be how all events are to be measured? Hopefully there is something more because the events that make New Canaan what it is and what attracted me to it do not enrich the town in a financial sense.

    The use of Waveny Park for the event could not be more appropriate. Car shows often occur in parks and it will bring many individuals who would not otherwise use the park into the park, its outdoor environment, and the recreational opportunities it provides. I live across from Waveny Park and my wife and I jog through it almost every morning. The event will not prevent us from using the park nor are we concerned about the vehicles in it creating a dangerous situation because Caffeine and Carburetors has been so well managed in the past. In-fact and to the contrary, with everything that will be going on during the event I would expect the people who use Waveny Park as a shortcut to slow down and the park will be a little safer than usual.

  7. I can’t say enough about the awesome job Doug and his crew have done over and over in arranging such an awesome event. My kids absolutely love checking out the awesome cars (new and old) at C&C. I agree it’s unfortunate that the event needs to relocate outside of the downtown area but that said, it’s understandable. I do think Mead Park could be a nice location, if it’s an option.
    Great job Doug & Crew, thanks for all of us!

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