The 10 most-read articles of 2021 cover a wide range of local news. The first full year of the COVID-19 pandemic saw traffic on New Canaanite exceed 2.2 million views, up more than 5.5% from 2020.
Here they are, headlines and ledes:
10. Health Director: New Canaan Woman’s COVID-19 Complaint About Local Restaurant Unfounded (Jan. 3) “Municipal health officials said a New Canaan woman’s complaint last month that a restaurant downtown had been violating COVID-19-related rules was determined to be unfounded. According to a complaint that Tucker Murphy lodged with New Canaan’s highest elected official, the White Buffalo bar and restaurant was ‘not following the Sector Rules’ on the night of Friday, Dec.
Town officials say they’re converting a standalone hard-surface public tennis court at Mead Park into a series of “pickleball” courts for use by New Canaan residents. Located up behind the collonade on the western edge of Mead, a tennis practice wall area also will be converted into a a pickle ball court so there will be five in total, under a plan that’s expected to go before the Board of Selectmen later this month, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. “The overall thought is to redo that hard court at the top, take away the trees that are along the railroad tracks, since they are damaging most of it, resurface or put an entire post-tension concrete surface below, surface the top of it, put in new fencing and then some additional trees in the back just as a buffer to soften the look along the railroad tracks,” Mann told members of the Parks & Recreation Commission at their regular meeting, held March 10 via videoconference.
The practice wall will remain with a pickleball court lined out on what will be the new post-tension concrete surface that will bring it up to the same grade/level as the other four, Mann said while showing schematics drawn up by West Haven-based Hinding Tennis LLC. Asked when he’d like to start the project, Mann said, “Now.” Once the concrete for the surface is poured, it takes about three weeks to cure, according to Recreation Director Steve Benko. Pickleball is a “paddleball sport” of two to four players “that combines elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis,” according to Wikipedia.
Town officials last week voted in favor of a $6,735 contract for a design improvement at Mead Park that’s expected to address the decades-old problem of baseball striking parked cars. The work of redoing the backstop on the varsity baseball field and some fencing around it is expected to cost a total of about $80,000, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. During its regular meeting May 19, the Board of Selectmen approved a contract with Avon-base Richter & Cegan Inc. to “give us a design to help us with the layout of that area, of the backstop itself and the fencing to try and protect and prevent balls from leaving the playing field,” Mann said. “It’s been a problem for a very long time with the layout of this backstop,” Mann told the selectmen at the meeting, held via videoconference.
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectmen Kit Devereaux and Nick Williams voted 3-0 in favor of the contract.
Foul balls struck down the right-field line at the large field often fly over a fence and onto cars in Mead’s main lot—a problem that was mitigated somewhat though not entirely with a new parking configuration.
The selectmen asked Mann whether the project had been discussed during budget season (in years past, yes), whether funds for the work were in this year’s budget (yes), in which direction the balls are flying (toward the parking lot) and whether the concern was vehicles.
A town official on Tuesday voiced concerns about the characterization of New Canaan’s most heavily used park as unsafe. Saying he believed that some of the talk around town about the safety of Waveny Park was “misguided a bit,” Selectman Nick Williams raised the issue during the Board of Selectmen’s regular meeting, held at Town Hall. While saying that he was “in favor of safety,” Williams asserted that “Waveny is one of the best parks in America and one of the safest parks in America.” Speaking during a section of the Board’s agenda dedicated to general town matters, Williams said that suggestions to the contrary were “perhaps politicized,” but was not specific about how. “I think it’s unfortunate that people are talking about Waveny as if it’s Central Park in the 1970s,” Williams said.
The “vast majority” of police incidents in town parks occur in Waveny, with 376 incidents reported there over the five-year period ending June 15, officials say. The figure is far higher than citizen-reported and police-initiated incidents at Irwin (62), Kiwanis (31), and Mead (89) Parks, according to data cited by Police Chief Leon Krolikowski. Though most of the incidents that police responded to at Waveny “were service-related, medical assists, animal complaints and suspicious vehicles,” Krolikowski said in a July 22 report to the head of the Parks & Recreation Commission, there were numerous criminal incidents as well. These include reports of a male masturbating in a vehicle and a fight during a wedding at Waveny House. Furthermore, on several occasions, the report said that “nationally organized gangs” were responsible for crimes committed in Waveny.