Town Contemplates Movies, New Water Activities at Kiwanis Park

The town’s plans for public use of Kiwanis Park may include movies and water-related programs at the swimming hole there, officials say. As it is, the Old Norwalk Road park is well-designed to serve younger children, and recreation officials are working to develop new programming that could help draw older kids, too, according to interim Parks & Recreation Director John Howe. “We’re changing some of our programs,” Howe told members of the Board of Selectmen at their April 19 meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. “We are going to try to do more things down there, get some life back into Kiwanis.”

He added, “Kiwanis works great for little kids, because they can walk in and out of the sand and they have all that sensory stuff they can do with sand. And then they kind of gravitate toward the pool as they get older.”

Kiwanis Park, like the Steve Benko Pool at Waveny, opens Memorial Day weekend.

Rec Director: ‘Non-Summer’ at Kiwanis Due to COVID, YMCA

The town couldn’t open Kiwanis Park to the public in the way it had planned this summer, officials say, not only because of the COVID-19 pandemic but also because a local organization that took over the Old Norwalk Road property for its own campers left it in sub-par condition. In years past, residents including Kiwanis pass-holders and Recreation Department campers, among others, have split use of the beach at the park’s swimming hole with the New Canaan YMCA. This year, citing space restrictions due to COVID-19, town officials approved a new lease that gave the Y exclusive weekday use of Kiwanis for its camp, limiting public access to 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, and open use on weekends. As a result, “the summer was a non-summer,” according to Recreation Director Steve Benko, “because we ran into the COVID situation and we ended up leasing the whole complex to the Y.”

“That really affected the attendance,” Benko told members of the Town Council Land Use, Recreation and Conservation Committee during their Oct. 7 meeting, held via videoconference.