After recent sustained cold temperatures, town officials this week were able to open Mead Pond for ice skating. With six inches of ice formed at Mead, skating opened on Monday, according to John Howe, parks superintendent in the New Canaan Department of Public Works. It’s the first time since 2018 that New Canaan has been able to have skating on Mead or Millport Pond, Howe said. Millport remains closed, he said. Kids, families and adults, including some with dogs, could be seen enjoying the ice at Mead at sundown Monday.
Parks officials said they opened Mead Pond for skating on Monday afternoon and plan to blow snow off of the ice starting Tuesday morning. The pond now has eight inches of ice, according to Parks Superintendent John Howe—that’s more than enough to satisfy the town’s insurer that it’s safe to for skating. “We’ll go out with snowblowers [on Tuesday], and what we’ll do is keep making the skating area bigger and bigger,” Howe told NewCanaanite.com. Mill Pond, which has far faster-moving water underneath and takes longer to freeze over, will not be cleared off for skating or opened, Howe said. As reported last week, the sustained cold temperatures of recent days opened the possibility that New Canaan would see skating at Mead Pond for the first time in three years and just the third time in 10 years.
Town officials say they’re hoping this week to take steps that will make it safe to skate at Mead Pond. Though the pond has just four inches of ice right now—whereas the town’s insurer requires six inches in order to open skating to the public—Parks Superintendent John Howe said he’s hoping to clear its surface of snow and add a layer of water to the top in order to create the requisite thickness. “A little bit of snow on top of the ice works as an insulating blanket, so it keeps the cold air from getting to the ice and freezing through,” Howe told NewCanaanite.com. “So our intention is to put some water on it [on Wednesday] and flood it. That will accomplish two things: We’ll get rid of the snow and let the ice form up instead of down.”
“My hope is that there will be skating by the end of the week,” he added.
Mead Pond is poised to get its first dredge since 2011, following a unanimous vote by the Board of Selectmen Tuesday morning. The board during its regular meeting approved 3-0 a set of contracts totaling $10,000, with area excavation and hauling companies. Town workers now are lowering water levels at Mead Pond as part of a widely anticipated project to restore and extend the park’s memorial walk honoring those who perished during World War II—the Gold Star Walk—creating “a perfect opportunity to take a look at the two gabion weirs that are protecting Mead Pond,” according to Department of Public Works Director Tiger Mann. “Mead does not get as much of a sediment load as Mill [Pond] does, so this will be our first time getting a look behind the weirs and what is trapped,” Mann said, referring to a screening system. First Selectman Rob Mallozzi and Selectmen Beth Jones and Nick Williams voted in favor of a $4,000 contract with Hussey Brothers Excavation, $4,000 with FGB Construction for excavation work, and $2,000 to Lanni Construction for hauling.
Since helping restore a memorial walk dedicated to New Canaanites who perished during World War II in 2003 in Mead Park, town resident Jim Bach, a Korean War veteran, has spearheaded efforts to improve the visibility and appearance of this town landmark. Those efforts have included re-planting of trees along the “Gold Star Walk,” creating a second footbridge to extend it and installing a new walkway and map—and a venerable nonprofit organization now is offering to help Bach preserve the memorial, which features a plaque listing names of the 38 men who died during the war (see gallery above for information on the servicemen). The memorial dates back to 1948, and Bach—a 1947 New Canaan High School graduate who served as a U.S. Army sergeant from 1952 to 1954—said he wants to add some finishing touches, to ensure its longevity. “I want to see it done, it was part of my life a long time ago and it kept me out of trouble at one time,” Bach said. “The final thing that I wanted to get done with the memorial is to put in a bridge across the main stream that enters the park, on the west side of the garage.