Former Horseshoe Pits Area at Mead Now Eyed for Bocce Courts

Advocates for the installation of bocce courts in New Canaan are now saying that a little-used area of Mead Park could be a better place for the popular game than the lawn behind Lapham Community Center. The area just beyond Gamble Field’s right field fence, for many years the site of horseshoe pits, could work better than Lapham in part because the bocce courts would be less conspicuous, according to Lenny Paglialunga, who presented the idea to town officials on behalf of his friend and fellow Dunkin Donuts morning crew regular John Buzzeo. “The thing I like about being down in the park is it is sort of—not ‘out of the way’—but there are concessions and bathrooms down there and lights, and in my opinion I think it would probably be more used down there than up here,” Paglialunga told members of the Park & Recreation Commission during their most recent regular meeting, held Oct. 14 in the Douglass Room at Lapham Community Center. The installation—originally proposed for an area behind Lapham, though it turns out the project could require the removal of the gazebo back there—would be completed by a private contractor and paid for by Buzzeo, Paglialunga said, who also would take responsibility for its upkeep.

Naming Rights, Donor Plaques on Waveny Structures Part of Conservancy’s Draft Agreement with Town

While members of the group appear now to be focused on landscaping, the Waveny Park Conservancy under a draft agreement with the town would be poised, with approvals, to name buildings and affix plaques to structures at the popular park in recognition of those who fund projects there. The “Park Preservation and Improvement Agreement” notes that the Town Council must approve “the naming of any building, structure or improvement after any donor, individual, foundation or group.”

“The Conservancy may affix donor recognition plaques in connection with completed Improvement Projects subject to Town approval in each instance as to size, design and location,” one section of the 2-page document reads. “The Conservancy shall not cause or permit any sign or advertisement to be placed in the Park or affixed to any building, structure or improvement except in compliance with the Town Code, ordinances and regulations.”

The document, which the Park & Recreation Commission supported 8-0 during its regular meeting Wednesday by way of recommending the agreement to the Board of Selectmen for further review, may offer a glimpse into one way that the Conservancy intends to raise money as it seeks to fund, propose and help oversee capital projects across a wide swath of Waveny’s grounds. Much of the Conservancy’s “bullet point” presentation to the Park & Recreation Commission dealt with the more immediate work that would be done at and near Waveny Pond as well as in the area in the southwest part of the park known as “the cornfields” (no longer a dumping area for dredged material). In particular, Conservancy member Bill Holmes said, the group is seeking to pay for a consultant to conduct a “forest management plan” which would include identifying invasive species at Waveny and would focus on the area south of the main road through the park.

Attorney: No Legal Problem with Dogs at Bristow

Bristow Bird Sanctuary is a public park and there’s nothing in its original deed to say dogs aren’t allowed on the property, according to an attorney whose legal opinion on the matter had been sought by town officials. Leashed dogs have been walked in the park since at least 1999 and a legal review of several documents—deeds, studies, annual reports, announcements—yields “insufficient documentation to reach a conclusion regarding the intent of the Grantor and whether the covenants were intended to restrict dogs,” according to Gail Kelly of Westport-based Berchem, Moses & Devlin. “There is nothing in the 1934 Deed to suggest that dogs are not allowed with the Bird Sanctuary,” Kelly said in a memo (embedded below as a PDF) addressed to Town Council Vice Chair Steve Karl, head of the group’s Bylaws & Ordinances Subcommittee. The Town Council had sought the legal opinion following a public hearing on the matter, which saw residents on both sides of the issue make impassioned pleas to the legislative body. The 17-acre Bristow Bird Sanctuary is located off of adjoins Mead Park.

New Water Fountain for Humans, Dogs Planned for Irwin Park

Visitors to Irwin Park and their leashed, four-legged friends soon will be able to refresh themselves while walking the Flexi-pave path that skirts the edge of the Weed Street property, officials say. Concerned about park-goers using a its hose to get a drink of water, the Garden Club of New Canaan is leading an effort to install a water fountain with two spouts—one waist-high for people and another down below for dogs—along the path that leads to Gores Pavilion, according to John Howe, parks superintendent in the Department of Public Works. “We could easily run water from the garage there and we’re working on getting quotes” for the Garden Club, Howe said at the Sept. 9 meeting of the Park & Recreation Commission. “It will be a handicapped-accessible fountain similar to the one at [Spencer’s Run], with a dog bowl, and we can turn off the water in the winter,” Howe said.

Local Landscape Architect Floats Plan for New Ice Skating Area, Footbridge, Model Boat Launch at Mead

A prominent local landscape architect is proposing several improvements to the northern end of Mead Park that could bring not only a new walking path and footbridge along part of the pond but also a modest-sized ice skating rink and small area for model boat enthusiasts to launch their watercraft. Keith Simpson’s plans (see PDF at bottom of article) are conceptual and newly introduced, and many questions must be answered before the Park & Recreation Commission could offer its formal endorsement, Commission Chair Sally Campbell said at the group’s July 8 meeting. That said, after seeing the plan and spending time at Mead Park with Simpson visualizing it, Campbell added: “I think it looks great and it would just be a wonderful addition to the park.”

She said it must be clear just what it would cost to deliver the improvements Simpson is proposing, who would pay for it and how, whether the town would incur any new costs to maintain Mead and what extra safety precautions, if any, would be required. As it stands, the area directly behind the disused shed at the park’s edge (where Grove Street comes into Richmond Hill Road) is weedy and largely inaccessible as pedestrians approach the pond. Simpson’s idea is to clear out a 100-by-160-foot area—about the size of three tennis courts—for a wildflower meadow in the summer that could be flooded with several inches of water for family ice skating in the winter.