Popularity of Platform Tennis Soars Amid COVID-19

Municipal officials say they’ve seen a steep increase this fall and winter in the number of people playing platform or “paddle” tennis on New Canaan’s town-owned courts at Waveny Park. Revenues generated through selling permits and guest passes for the outdoor sport already have surpassed $70,000 for the paddle tennis season that started in early-October, compared to anticipated revenues of about $46,000, according to Recreation Director Steve Benko. In the past two paddle seasons, which run through mid-April, the town has taken in a total of about $56,000 (fiscal year 2020) and $46,000 (fiscal year 2019) in revenues, Benko told members of the Board of Finance Park & Recreation Budget Subcommittee during a regular meeting Monday. “Paddle is going crazy,” he said during the meeting, held via videoconference. 

“We’ve had an outstanding year so far in paddle tennis. Our revenues are way up in paddle.

Board of Finance Member: New Canaan Should Consider Charging Nonresidents Using Waveny Park

A Board of Finance member said this week that if a substantial number of Waveny Park visitors are from out-of-town, as has been suggested, then New Canaan should consider charging them for entry. The town should consider granting each New Canaan household two or three car passes to Waveny “and then, I don’t know, maybe at some point we charge for parking or something,” Amy Murphy Carroll said during a meeting of the Board’s Parks & Recreation Budget Subcommittee, held Monday via videoconference. “Because it’s expensive to maintain and we have the Waveny Conservancy doing incredible things, we have the paths for doing all that stuff,” she said. “And I just think, you know, we do a lot of stuff in New Canaan that benefits people in a broader way and our taxpayers pay for it all. And I’m not trying to be exclusive, and to the extent that if we did something like this, I think it could go toward the Conservancy or toward [the Recreation Department] budget or something.”

The comments came while Murphy Carroll and two other finance board members, Michael Chen and Tom Schulte, reviewed Recreation Director Steve Benko’s proposed spending plan for fiscal year 2022 in advance of a full Board of Finance meeting.

Town ID’s $695,000 in Planned Capital Spending This Fiscal Year That Could Be Delayed

Saying New Canaan should consider putting off some capital spending in the near term until a clearer picture of the economy emerges, town officials last week identified nearly $700,000 earmarked for the current fiscal year that could be delayed. Prepared with input from public works and district officials as well as the first selectman, the draft list of more than 75 items total $695,000 and range from small expenditures such $29 for signage and striping up to about $63,000 for a solar project at a town building, documents show. Board of Finance Chair Todd Lavieri said the main question now facing the town is whether the spending could be delayed or deferred “until we have a little more clarity.”

“You guys control this,” Lavieri told First Selectman Kevin Moynihan, Public Works Director Tiger Mann and town CFO Lunda Asmani during the finance board’s April 7 meeting, held via videoconference. “We can’t tell you what to do and how to do this. But I guess it would be our recommendation, or at least our consideration, to hold onto the spending at least for another month until we got more clarity.”

The comments came during a discussion within the finance board and no formal action has been taken on the recommendation. They also came as New Canaan and the nation grapple with a hard stop to the economy that’s seen businesses forced to slow down or shutter altogether for health reasons as unemployment claims soar.

Editorial: P&Z Commissioner Dick Ward Should Recuse Himself from Glass House-Related Matters

Planning & Zoning Commissioner Dick Ward’s continued participation in hearings regarding the Philip Johnson Glass House is unseemly, unhelpful and poses a legal risk to the town. He should recuse himself from related votes and discussions in the future. A neighbor of the Glass House who has faced criticism in the past for refusing to recuse himself when the organization has applied to amend its zoning permit, Ward during P&Z’s July 30 meeting once again spoke out against an application made on behalf of the National Trust for Historic Preservation site. 

He did so unreasonably, unnecessarily and inconsistently with his own past practice as a commissioner. Ward’s Winfield Lane house sits a five-minute walk or two-minute drive from the Glass House property on Ponus Ridge, according to Google Maps. In the past, he has pushed back on the recommendation to recuse himself from Glass House hearings by saying that he doesn’t discuss the organization’s application with others who live in the neighborhood, and that he lives beyond the legally required 100-foot “notification area” for land use applicants.