‘New Canaan At Its Best’: Town Council Thanks Volunteers Who Run Family Fourth at Waveny

New Canaan’s legislative body on Wednesday recognized a group of residents who volunteer each year to plan and run one of the town’s most beloved annual traditions, the Fourth of July fireworks at Waveny. The Family Fourth Committee through its many hours of volunteering creates what Town Council Vice Chairman Steve Karl called “a Norman Rockwell moment” for those who picnic and enjoy the fireworks show each summer. “It’s one of those places and times when it’s New Canaan at its best,” Karl said during the Town Council’s regular meeting, held at Town Hall. “Thank you.”

The committee includes:

Steve Benko
Scott Cluett
Chris Cody
Wendy Dixon Fog
Win Goodrich
Suzanne Jonker
Vincent Luciano
Steve Parrett (Secretary)
Tom Stadler (Chairman)
John DiFederico
Rob Mallozzi (honorary member)
Doug Richardson (liaison from the Park & Recreation Commission)

At councilman Penny Young’s suggestion, the committee earned a standing ovation from the legislative body and others gathered in the Town Meeting Room. Town Council Chairman Bill Walbert said nothing better defines New Canaan “than the celebration that we put on for our country’s birthday.”

“There are a lot of things that speak to it, one of which is the fact that we depend on our citizens to support it, it is run by our citizens we have countless volunteers that work everything from traffic to balloons to you name it.”

Walbert noted that Stadler “lives and breathes” the Family Fourth as the committee’s chairman and “is always looking to make it better.”

Committee member Steve Benko recalled that the Family Fourth was launched in 1979 when the chairman of Park & Rec at the time, Joe Toppin, brought the idea to then-First Selectman Charlie Morton about creating a regular event out of a Bicentennial celebration at Waveny a few years earlier, complete with a picnic, fireworks and skydivers.

Coming To Mead: ‘3-Hour Maximum’ Signs To Deter Long-Term Parking

Commuters, some out-of-state, and guests at nearby condominiums appear to be using Mead Park for long-term parking, prompting the town to take action, officials said Wednesday. Public works has ordered up ‘3-hour maximum parking’ signs and soon will place them throughout Mead in order to empower parking enforcement officers to ticket the violators, members of the Park & Recreation Commission said at their regular monthly meeting. “The cars have three-quarters inches of that stuff coming off of the trees now,” commissioner Andrea Peterson said at the group’s meeting, held in the Douglass Room at Lapham Community Center (“pollen,” others supplied). “There are cars that are laden with it.”

“There are cars with New York state plates, cars with Ohio plates. People must have out-of-town guests that just leave their cars there.”

She added: “One of the local condo associations says part of the spiel when you buy a condo is that yes, you can park at Mead.”

Recreation Director Steve Benko clarified that after the Park Mead Condominiums were sold, the new owner limited residents to a single car, “and some people have two cars.”

As a result, those residents at first were told to go park at Mead—a situation that the selectmen have addressed with the condos, Benko said.

Parks Officials Set Proposed Fees, Plan Upgrades to Waveny Pool

Hoping more residents buy family (versus individual) passes for Waveny Pool as officials plan several new features and upgrades at the facility, the Park & Recreation Commission on Wednesday voted in favor of a new slate of fees for the 2015 season. The fee for regular family passes will come down from $475 to $425, under the proposed structure, while passes that allow for daily use and guests will go up, under the commission’s plan. The changes are designed to lure families to purchase season passes rather than mixing and matching daily and guest passes to save money. “It sounds by looking at everything that people were gaming the system by buying this [individual daily pass] and then bringing in people as guests for $5,” Commission Chair Sally Campbell said at the group’s meeting, held in the Douglas Room at Lapham Community Center. Here’s a look at the proposed fee schedule, compared to last year:


The Waveny Pool financially must self-sustain, and the commission all through last summer had believed that revenues, though up from the prior year, still fell short of projections—a difficult prospect, given what recreation officials have called a sorely needed plaster replacement job.

Town Eyes Plan to Screen, Sell Dredged Material from Mill, Mead Ponds

Town officials are looking into whether the organic material dredged from Mead and Mill Ponds—long piled near the southeast corner of Waveny, in an open area known as the “corn field”—could be treated and sold at a profit for municipal coffers. It isn’t clear just how much of the approximately 30,000 total yards of material could be screened and sold—say, upwards of $15 per cubic yard—because some of it may be too “bony” (too many rocks) or too organic, said Tiger Mann, assistant director of the New Canaan Department of Public Works and senior engineer for the town. The DPW is putting together a proposal that will include a cost-benefit analysis—how much would it cost to screen the dredged material (mostly decomposed leaves) and then how much could New Canaan fetch for it, Mann said. When developed, the proposal would need backing from the Park & Recreation Commission and Board of Selectmen (approving the contract for the screener and revised cost of selling the material). Park & Recreation Commissioner Doug Richardson at the group’s monthly meeting on Thursday said one contractor has been paying about $8 per yard for 4,000 yards of unscreened material.