Officials Seek Workable Site in Kiwanis Park for Proposed Open-Air Ice Rink

Town officials said Tuesday they’re trying to identify just where in Kiwanis Park would be the best place for a proposed open-air ice rink. 

A leading contender for a seasonal rink site in New Canaan that would be open to the public with an admission charge, Kiwanis is attractive in that it has sufficiently large areas, parking, access to bathrooms, running water and electricity, and structures that could house changing areas, snack bar and skate shop, members of the Parks & Recreation Commission have said. Yet a level area out front of the main pavilion traditionally has been used by a local service organization for a large chunk of the late-November-through-February trial season that Parks & Rec has floated. 

And early cost estimates to level out an area behind the pavilion and install a retaining wall there appear cost-prohibitive, a group of town officials and community volunteers said during a meeting of a Parks & Rec subcommittee. It’s also unclear whether installing the ice rink deeper into the park—on the far side of the swimming hole—would create a sufficiently attractive and workable facility, officials said during the Parks & Rec skating subcommittee meeting. While excavation, fill, retaining wall construction and other costs would push the total expense for an ice rink located between the rear of the pavilion and swimming hole to an estimated $200,000 to $250,000, creating a facility out front of the building, where the Exchange Club of New Canaan in past years has set up its approximately month-long Christmas tree sale would be far less money, official said. Rona Siegel, chair of Parks & Rec, asked whether the club had ever looked at setting up its sale in the Waveny Pool parking lot instead. 

“It’s ideal,” Siegel said at the meeting, held in a conference room at Town Hall.

Parks Chief: Goats Pulled ‘A Little Bit Early’ from Irwin

Though the goats installed at Irwin Park did well in their first summer of chewing up invasive plants, the animals appear to have been pulled from their work just a little too soon, officials said. The five goats who arrived at Irwin in July under a town-approved contract went to work immediately on the invasives and especially Japanese Knotweed, which had grown so high it encroached on the Flexi-pave path at the western end of the park, officials said. “There is a lot of knotweed that came back, a lot of stuff was growing again,” Parks Superintendent John Howe said during the Oct. 16 meeting of the Parks & Recreation Commission, held at Lapham Community Center. “I think they pulled them a little bit early.”

The Board of Selectmen in June approved a $10,200 contract with Rhinebeck, N.Y.-based Green Goats to have the goats work at Irwin this year, with funds provided by the New Canaan Garden Club.

Parks & Rec Reviews Town-Owned Properties as Possible Sites for Future Ice Rink 

Kiwanis Park, two sports fields along Farm Road at New Canaan High School, artificial turf fields near the water towers and the parking lot south of the softball Orchard Field at Waveny all are contenders as potential sites for a proposed open-aired ice rink, officials said last week. 

Those areas appear to meet the rigid criteria needed for a seasonal rink in New Canaan that would be open to the public with an admission charge, under a proposal that Parks & Recreation Commissioner Gene Goodman is developing as a member of the appointed body. Goodman said that after consulting with recreation and public works officials, several other candidates—such as at Mead Park, the New Canaan Nature Center, Saxe Middle School and Conner Field—had to be rejected for a variety of reasons. A potential site must be level, big enough to accommodate a 120-by-60-foot rink with an additional 10-foot perimeter as well as space for temporary structures (snack bar, changing area, skate shop, office, Zamboni machine), access to bathrooms and running water and electricity, and parking for at least 40 vehicles, Goodman told members of the Commission at their July 10 meeting. “What ofttimes looks like a viable alternative, has a lot of cost considerations and negatives,” Goodman said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. Goodman said he’s working on narrowing down his list of potential candidate sites and hopes that the the subcommittee he’s leading could bring a recommendation to the full Commission this fall.

Parks Officials Propose Ice Rink in New Canaan

Parks officials are proposing a seasonal, open-aired ice rink in New Canaan that would be open to the public with an admission charge. To be used primarily for recreational ice skating and limited sports practice, the rink should be located on town property, preferably in a public park, under a proposal developed by Gene Goodman of the Parks & Recreation Commission. Funded under a public-private partnership similar to the self-sustaining Waveny Pool, the facility would run from late-November through February for two trial seasons in order to gauge public interest, costs and appropriate rink size, and out-of-towners would be charged higher admission fees, according to a summary provided by Goodman, who has led the appointed body’s efforts to study the possibility of a rink for nearly one year. Though the project is too early-stage for the Commission or another town body to ask for funding or formal approval to pursue the rink—that process will require multiple public hearings and sign-off from the selectmen, Board of Finance, Town Council and likely the Planning & Zoning Commission—Parks & Rec members at their Jan. 9 meeting “agreed that this would be a benefit to our town and agreed that we should proceed to next steps,” according to Goodman.