While members of the group appear now to be focused on landscaping, the Waveny Park Conservancy under a draft agreement with the town would be poised, with approvals, to name buildings and affix plaques to structures at the popular park in recognition of those who fund projects there.
The “Park Preservation and Improvement Agreement” notes that the Town Council must approve “the naming of any building, structure or improvement after any donor, individual, foundation or group.”
“The Conservancy may affix donor recognition plaques in connection with completed Improvement Projects subject to Town approval in each instance as to size, design and location,” one section of the 2-page document reads. “The Conservancy shall not cause or permit any sign or advertisement to be placed in the Park or affixed to any building, structure or improvement except in compliance with the Town Code, ordinances and regulations.”
The document, which the Park & Recreation Commission supported 8-0 during its regular meeting Wednesday by way of recommending the agreement to the Board of Selectmen for further review, may offer a glimpse into one way that the Conservancy intends to raise money as it seeks to fund, propose and help oversee capital projects across a wide swath of Waveny’s grounds.
Much of the Conservancy’s “bullet point” presentation to the Park & Recreation Commission dealt with the more immediate work that would be done at and near Waveny Pond as well as in the area in the southwest part of the park known as “the cornfields” (no longer a dumping area for dredged material).
In particular, Conservancy member Bill Holmes said, the group is seeking to pay for a consultant to conduct a “forest management plan” which would include identifying invasive species at Waveny and would focus on the area south of the main road through the park. It’s also interested in reviving Waveny Pond through a “bubbler” that would help pump oxygen into the largely stagnant watercourse and restoring some of the grounds near Waveny House to what the Frederick Law Olmstead Jr. firm had in mind when it laid out Waveny’s grounds after the Lapham family had the mansion built in 1912-13.
Those types of things qualify as “Improvement Projects,” under the draft agreement, as do “rehabilitating, renovating and improving buildings, structures and infrastructure.”
Asked by Park & Rec Commissioner Andrea Peterson about the references to physical buildings in the draft agreement, Holmes referred first to a structure that presumably will yield little funds by way of naming rights: a 4-by-6-foot shed to house the pond bubbler.
“Secondly, as the town looks to Waveny House which has as at this point—other than a couple of very nice walkthroughs that [Recreation Director] Steve [Benko] has organized for us—we have no plans for whatsoever,” said Holmes, a vice president of the New Canaan Preservation Alliance. “We have recommended very strongly to the first selectman’s office, it has to be decided by the town, it’s got to be decided by a lot more people than us, but we wanted in the original agreement that when the town does come together and the town makes up their mind, or whatever body makes up that decision, that we in our agreement would be able to be raise money for funds for the town for Waveny House under our original agreement, but as of right now we have no plans for Waveny House and I would be surprised if any emerged before we finish the work we plan for the grounds.”
Meanwhile, the work on the grounds may also include landscaping south of the walled garden at Waveny and at the forecourt of the main house and entranceway to the park, Holmes said.
“If we are trying to tell people that Waveny is this phenomenal great mansion, maybe have it appear that way form the minute you are coming off of South Avenue,” he told the commission. “But all of those are plans that are currently being worked on now which we plan on [bringing] to you, I believe, in November, and actually saying this is our plan for this and this is our plan for that.”
Though it will not pay for things like DPW salaries or routine maintenance of the lawn at Waveny, the Conservancy will fund projects it recommends and also keep up a fund dedicated to maintenance of anything it works on, Holmes said.