‘You Have Been Exceptional’: High Praise for Rona Siegel as Parks & Rec Chairmanship Turns Over

Members of the Parks & Recreation Commission offered high praise at their most recent meeting for Chair Rona Siegel as the leadership for the appointed body turned over in a close election. Parks & Rec chair for the past three years, Siegel has been “exceptional, just exceptional” in the role, Commissioner Hank Green said during the group’s Jan. 12 meeting, held via videoconference. “Your commitment, the time you’ve put in, your mastery of the issues—on behalf for town, thank you,” Green said. Siegel was elected chair of Parks & Rec in March 2019, succeeding fellow Democrat Sally Campbell in the role.

Rule-Breakers Prompt Town To Install New Sign at Dog Park Regarding Prohibition on Young Children

Saying some of those who use the dog run at Waveny are breaking a rule that prohibits young children from entering the fenced-in area, officials are planning to install an even more explicit sign there. This wording already appears on a “Rules of the Dog Park” sign outside Spencer’s Run: “Children under five are prohibited from entering Spencer’s Run—no exceptions. This is for the protection of the children.”

Yet recently, Parks & Recreation Commissioner George Benington said, when he’s gone to the popular dog run “there have been some not-so-bright adults who have been bringing in some of their toddlers.”

Addressing the full Commission during its Nov. 10 meeting, Benington asked whether a dedicated sign saying “No children under the age of five” could be posted at the gated entrance to Spencer’s Run. “One mother gives us some pushback in there,” he said at the meeting, held via videoconference. 

Recreation Director Steve Benko said that although the rules of the park are spelled out on the gate, people don’t read them.

Parks & Rec: Tennis Permits Up 70% in 2021

Sales of Mead Park tennis permits are up 70% year-over-year, officials say. The New Canaan Recreation Department had sold 473 permits in 2021 as of the Sept. 8 meeting of the Parks & Recreation Commission, according to Commissioner George Benington. The figure compares to 277 in 2020 and 142 “so we can obviously see the post-COVID effects, or COVID effects, are having a huge impact on our facilities,” Benington said at the meeting, held via videoconference. 

“The numbers speak for themselves,” he said. “They’re absolutely phenomenal.”
The comments came during update from Benington on the town’s tennis, platform or “paddle” tennis and recently opened pickleball facilities.

Committee Struggles To Find Date for Twice-Postponed Waveny Fireworks

The volunteer committee that organizes the annual Fourth of July fireworks in Waveny is struggling to find a new date for the twice-postponed event, officials say. Originally scheduled for July 3 with a July 11 rain date, the annual picnic and fireworks show has been put off due to rain and concerns about damaging Waveny’s athletic fields where visitors’ cars are parked, according to Recreation Director Steve Benko. “So we are looking to try and find an alternate date,” he told members of the Parks & Recreation Commission during their regular meeting, held July 14 via videoconference. ‘That’s been kind of difficult.”

The comments came during Benko’s general update to the Commission. 

Canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Family Fourth could not be scheduled with the fireworks contractor on the usual July 4 date this year. Though the Family Fourth Committee started planning later than usual in 2021 due to uncertainty about COVID-related restrictions, the group decided in May to market this year’s fireworks as “New Canaan residents only.” It’s unclear how many tickets were sold.