Parks Chief: Despite Recent Cold, Pond Skating Unlikely This Winter

First night of ice skating at Mead Pond Feb 18 2015

Uploaded by Michael Dinan on 2015-02-19.

After sustained cold last winter delivered New Canaan’s first ice skating season on Mead Pond in six years, officials say—despite recent lower temperatures—the prospect of repeating that cherished town tradition is unlikely. A few cold nights have helped cool down the water and some ice has formed on the pond, “but it’s a long, long ways from what we need to have skating out there,” said John Howe, parks superintendent in the New Canaan Department of Public Works. “Extended cold weather would help, especially if it stays dry, and if it stays below freezing all day you can develop up to an inch of ice a day. But that would be the maximum, so even if we got cold today, you are talking about a minimum of a [full] week and unfortunately, I don’t see that happening.”

Scores of New Canaanites headed to Mead Pond last February to ice skate and play hockey, including under the lights after dark—at one time a regular annual tradition that changed more than a dozen years ago when the town changed insurers and a full six inches of ice was required to green light it. Many attribute changes in temperature patterns—specifically, suddenly warmish, 40-degree days in the midst of a cold spell—with preventing the ponds from freezing over.

Town Opens Ice Skating at Mead Pond [PHOTOS, VIDEO]

First night of ice skating at Mead Pond Feb 18 2015
Town parks officials plan on Wednesday afternoon opened Mead Pond for ice skating, restoring a longstanding town tradition that’s been absent for six years. With ice more than 10 inches thick on the pond, the Department of Public Works went over the surface with a snowplow late in the morning, blew extra snow off of the ice around lunchtime and then opened the pond, keeping it going under lights through 10 p.m., Parks Superintendent John Howe. The DPW will check ice thickness each day, he said. Recreation Director Steve Benko said the difficulty in the past has been that sustained cold such as New Canaan has seen these past few weeks has been interspersed with rainy or warmer days. “We never get a chance to get it done, but it seems now like we have a little time,” Benko said.

Town Tradition Fading: Six Years Since New Canaan Had Ice Skating on Mead or Mill Pond

It was Dec. 31, 1993, and this thought came to Cam Hutchins as he—3-month-old daughter in his arms, bundled up in a snuggie—followed the sound of a slapshot toward Mead Pond, where dozens of ice skaters wobbled or glided over a frozen sheet of ice, illuminated by parking lot lights and set that New Year’s Eve against a backdrop of Christmas lights: “As she gets older, we can do this.”

“This” being a cherished New Canaan tradition: Ice skating on Mead or Mill Pond. Hutchins, a 1977 New Canaan High School graduate, recalls the fires burning in the Lions Den at Mill Pond during his Center School days. “All winter long, it seemed like we were always going to Mill Pond,” he recalled. “Skating there on the weekends was a big deal.

Town Eyes Plan to Screen, Sell Dredged Material from Mill, Mead Ponds

Town officials are looking into whether the organic material dredged from Mead and Mill Ponds—long piled near the southeast corner of Waveny, in an open area known as the “corn field”—could be treated and sold at a profit for municipal coffers. It isn’t clear just how much of the approximately 30,000 total yards of material could be screened and sold—say, upwards of $15 per cubic yard—because some of it may be too “bony” (too many rocks) or too organic, said Tiger Mann, assistant director of the New Canaan Department of Public Works and senior engineer for the town. The DPW is putting together a proposal that will include a cost-benefit analysis—how much would it cost to screen the dredged material (mostly decomposed leaves) and then how much could New Canaan fetch for it, Mann said. When developed, the proposal would need backing from the Park & Recreation Commission and Board of Selectmen (approving the contract for the screener and revised cost of selling the material). Park & Recreation Commissioner Doug Richardson at the group’s monthly meeting on Thursday said one contractor has been paying about $8 per yard for 4,000 yards of unscreened material.

Mallozzi: ‘Iconic’ New Canaan Pond Skating Missing This Winter


via YouTube

Though we’ve seen one of the harshest winters in memory—with plenty of freezing temperatures—New Canaan is missing one of its “iconic” pastimes, the town’s highest elected official said. First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said he remembers skating on Mead and Mill Ponds as a child, teen and with his own kids. Yet this year “it just isn’t happening,” Mallozzi told New Canaanite. The first selectman offers up one possible reason: The tons of salt that road crews use to make sure motorists can get around town as quickly as possible.