With its vantage point overlooking the pond and tennis courts, and enclosed by the columns that recall ancient Greece or Rome, the colonnade at Mead Park could be developed in some way to better serve New Canaanites, parks officials said Wednesday night.
It’s a “nice area, and if you start to fix it up, it could be utilized,” Recreation Director Steve Benko said during a regular meeting of the Park & Recreation Commission, held at Lapham Community Center.
The town could consider putting “either a paver patio or a flagstone patio, and you could put a couple of Adirondack chairs and round picnic tables with umbrellas, and a lot of people go down to the snack bar and it gets very busy with noise with kids. And it might offer the tennis players a place to go up, grab an iced tea, and sit and chat with their friends. Or somebody brings their lunch up there. It could be a nice additional area that we could use in the park.”
He added that a “tennis shed” could be constructed in such a way to give a view of the tennis courts below.
The comments came as the commission discussed Benko’s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget. He is seeking $7,500 to maintain the colonnade area, whose columns should be pressure-washed, he said, and “one has a big hole where a big squirrel made a nest inside.”
Commission Chairman Sally Campbell said that a group such as the Garden Club would be needed in order to improve the colonnade area and “make sure it comes back to life as it should be.” Ultimately, the group decided to work on developing ideas for the colonnade area.
The history of the colonnade dates back to the Great Depression, which according to the New Canaan Historical Society’s publication Landmarks of New Canaan, was actually a period of substantial growth for Mead Park. Federal relief agencies–the WPA, in particular–were very active at the time in New Canaan. At that time Mead Park was not too far removed from its former status as a gravel pit/cranberry bog, consisting only of a poorly drained athletic field, one tennis court and a small skating pond. It was a fertile area for development.
A combination of federal and civic funds went into a major overhaul of the park, which included access sidewalks on Park and Richmond Hill Roads, the gothic iron arch at the entrance of the park, dredging and landscaping of the pond, the revamping of the baseball field, additional tennis courts, a pumping station, a bandstand and–last, but not least–a children’s wading pool surrounded by a colonnade, courtesy of New Canaan resident Abraham Hatfield.
It was such a distinctive landmark of the park that WPA paintings focused on two areas of Mead–the baseball field and the wading pool.
Benko has said that during World War II, the wading pool was filled in and converted into a victory garden, later disused.
Victory Garden?! Can it still be used as a garden. Seems to me that there are plenty of people who have a interest in food that this would be the perfect spot for a community garden!
And what a beautiful setting for such a garden!