Attendance at Kiwanis increased by more than 40% last summer and the park potentially could more than cover costs associated with its operation, officials said last week. Kiwanis Park “is not fully being used for what it should be,” according to Parks & Recreation Commission Chair Rona Siegel. “The facility is incredible inside that concession,” Siegel said during the Commission’s regular meeting, held Jan. 8 at Town Hall. “It is restaurant-grade for the summer and spring months.
Town officials are urging Mead Park visitors to remove their trash from a newly installed playground area that came to be as a result of a successful public-private partnership.
New Canaan is proud of the new playground and those that raised funds to help pay for the project, “and so I guess for me it’s just a public request, too: Whatever you take in, make sure you take it out, just like camping,” Parks & Recreation Chair Rona Siegel said during the appointed body’s regular meeting, held July 10 at Town Hall.
“And there are trash cans near the concessions, near the driving area,” Siegel said. A collaboration between the town and Friends of Mead Park Playground–a private effort overseen by two New Canaan women that saw more than $200,000 raised thanks to scores of individual donors as well as generous local businesses and nonprofit organizations—the remade play area replaces aging, deteriorating equipment and includes a “poured-in-place” rubberized surface. After some weather-related delays, the playground was finished and ready for use prior to the Fourth of July, though almost immediately trash began collecting in the area.
Parks Commissioner Jack Hawkins asked whether trash cans had been installed around the playground area itself. Told that they had not, he said, “Can we discuss tat and can we get some down there? I think having a trashcan available down there will help prevent littering.”
John Howe, superintendent of parks with the New Canaan Department of Public Works, said that before the town moved to a “carry in-carry out” policy, “we had much more garbage blowing around.”
“Blowing around the trash cans, anything from squirrels getting inside and chewing their way out, to ‘Well it’s close enough, it’s near the trash can,’ ” Howe said.
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.
Saying lower rates could increase use of a public facility that’s seen a decline in interest, town officials last week voted unanimously to recommend a new slate of fees for Mead Park tennis permits. Parks & Recreation Commissioner Steve Haberstroh, a member of the appointed body’s Tennis Committee, said the reduced fees and introduction of a new type of permit for non-residents are part of a multi-pronged approach to reinvigorating interest in tennis in New Canaan. Officials also pare planning to create new and better programming at Mead Park tennis courts, he said during the Commission’s March 13 meeting. Haberstroh noted that officials must have clean data on facility use in hand in order to make decisions about the courts—for example, whether some of them should be re-purposed. “We want a robust tennis program and so we’ve started to do work understand what is going on,” Haberstroh said during the meeting, held at Town Hall.
The newest member of the town body responsible for advising on public parks and recreational facilities is a commissioned officer with the Army National Guard who has lived in New Canaan for three years. Jack Hawkins introduced himself during the Parks & Recreation Commission’s most recent meeting, noting that he has “moved all around throughout my entire life” between the military and school, though his wife is native of the region. “She is from Manhattan and we have a daughter, she is three years old and we moved to town three years ago,” Hawkins said during the Commission’s Dec. 12 meeting, held at Lapham Community Center.
“So we were looking around—I am kind of analytical, a finance guy—and we were looking around and studying different towns, and we found New Canaan, and the more and more we got to know it, the more we loved it. I’m a frequent user of the parks and recreation, especially with young kids and being in the military and having to live up to our physical fitness standards.”
Hawkins has been appointed to a seat that had been held by longtime Commissioner Jason Milligan, who stepped down, Chair Sally Campbell said.