With its parking lots filled to capacity and hundreds of people walking the trails, Waveny has become a “destination park” for all of Fairfield County, according to the town’s recreation director.
Waveny “has been overwhelmed with visitors on weekends to walk the trails, walk the fields,” Steve Benko told members of the Parks & Recreation Commission at their Nov. 11 meeting, held via videoconference.
“We have kind of become the destination park in Fairfield County. A lot of outside people coming through. You may even have driven through some Sunday afternoons, you might notice cars parked up and down the roads on the grass, everywhere, as the parking lots are filled to capacity. So everybody has been out in the fresh air, trying to enjoy the fresh air.”
A popular wedding site and jewel of the town long beloved by New Canaanites who gather each July 4th for community-wide picnicking and fireworks, and sled down a hill behind the main house in winter, Waveny remained open to the public longer than parks in surrounding towns in the early weeks of the COVID-19 virus. It finally was closed March 30 by order of the first selectman, reopening April 26 for trail-walking only and for limited sports use about two months later.
Benko’s comments on its rising popularity came during a general update from the recreation director.
Commissioner Hank Green asked whether there’s any downside to Waveny getting a high number of visitors.
“Not really, it’s just that I have to say 70% of the visitors are not residents, so we have become Fairfield County’s park,” Benko said. “There are a lot cars parking on the lawns. So far it’s been good. People are very respectful of the park. Waveny is a safe, secure park. People realize that, so we do attract a lot fo people.”
John Howe, parks superintendent with the Department of Public Works, noted that “there is a little bit of downside” with the increased activity at parks such as Waveny, as well as public schools, which have been “trying to hold as many classes outside as they can.”
“We have had to adjust a lot of our maintenance schedules,” Howe said. “We have to work around, we get a lot more done early in the morning but even Waveny Park on beautiful days is filling up quicker. It’s not the end of the world. It’s nice seeing people out there using the park.”