Parks & Rec: Tennis Court Usage Up Amid COVID-19 Emergency

Officials say they’ve seen a sharp rise among residents seeking passes to play tennis at Mead Park this summer. 

The town has sold 216 total passes compared to 144 last year, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Steve Haberstroh said during the appointed body’s regular meeting Wednesday. 

Within those figures, the number of adult passes has increased year-over-year from 59 to 115, while youth passes have increased from 17 to 42, Haberstroh said during the meeting, held via videoconference. 

“Likely due to COVID, people are interested in tennis again,” he said during an update on tennis activity. 

The courts at Mead Park and New Canaan High School both are seeing robust regular use, Haberstroh said. On good weather days, 35 to 45 courts are used daily at each location, he said. Starting May 10, the high school courts began requiring users to register ahead of time to use the courts and had an attendant there to ensure CDC and U.S. Tennis Association guidelines are followed, and 450 people signed up, Haberstroh said. The only user group buying fewer passes is seniors, down slightly from 65 in 2019 to 56 this summer, he said. The reason for the overall increase likely is that residents are looking to do outdoor sports and to social-distance amid the COVID-19 public health emergency, Parks & Rec commissioners said.

Parks Officials Vote 7-1 To Support New Access Road Connecting NCHS, Waveny

Saying they still need to reach an agreement with district officials about how a proposed new access road linking New Canaan High School to Waveny would be used, members of the Parks & Recreation Commission at their most recent meeting voted 7-1 in favor the concept. The proposed road would run south of the parking lot that sits between Dunning Field and the tennis courts at NCHS, through a grass area toward where the Summer Theatre of New Canaan had its site, and connect to a milled lot alongside the Waveny water towers. By installing parking spaces on either side of the new road, and at the same time expanding “water tower field” parking, New Canaan would gain about 75 new spaces in an area that now requires more of them, with the launch of additional turf fields, officials have said. Briefed on the plan in March, some Parks & Rec commissioners said they worried the new access road would bring unwanted additional traffic to Waveny. Since then, members of the Commission have walked the site and studied the plan in greater detail, and at their April 10 meeting voted to approve the idea, though questions about whether gates on either side of the road would be “locked during the day full-time, open only on weekends, only allowed for teacher parking or student parking” still must be worked out, Chairman Rona Siegel said.

‘Follow Them, Look at Their Car, Get the License Plate’: Parks Commissioner Calls for Self-Policing at Irwin

A town official on Wednesday night called for a renewed effort to self-police Irwin Park, which she said has seen a resurgence in abandoned dog feces. 

Parks & Recreation Commission member Francesca Segalas said during the group’s regular meeting that reporting offenders to police and having them ticketed has worked in the past. Tickets issued to irresponsible dog walkers last year led to less dog waste left behind, Segalas said at the meeting, held at Town Hall. “And the tickets happened from two citizens reporting, not from the cops stopping them,” she said. “The dog warden caught them but she caught them on information from the citizen. So we need people to go and kind of look and see and if you see somebody who leaves dog poo behind, follow them, look at their car, get the license plate and text it to me and I’ll take care of it.”

The comments come one year after Parks & Rec formed a committee to tackle the problem and one local woman launched a widely discussed public shaming campaign at Irwin, placing ‘Shame On You’ flags on individual piles of excrement left at the popular park.