Town officials this month voted unanimously to approve a June 4 ceremony to honor and memorialize one of New Canaan’s most recognizable, well-liked and dedicated residents. The Parks & Recreation Commission at its May 11 meeting voted 7-0 to approve a plan to dedicate the “Steve Benko Pool” in Waveny on the morning of Saturday, June 4. “I think it’s wonderful,” Chair George Benington said during the meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. “Steve Karl and Robin [Bates Mason] have worked really hard to put this together.”
Benko died Feb. 12 after a brief battle with cancer.
Longstanding plans to install a volunteer-run “swap shop” at the Transfer Station are on hold pending a separate capital project at the site for a storage family for road salt, officials say. The fiscal year 2023 budget now under discussion includes $50,000 for a site and construction study of a planned “salt dome” at the Transfer Station, officials said during the Feb. 17 meeting of the New Canaan Conservation Commission. Pegged at $500,000 last year, the construction costs may well have increased since that time, Commission Chair Chris Schipper said during the group’s meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference.
Effortrs to put in a swap shop based on Darien’s successful model are “getting harder,” Schipper said. “Until they get the salt cellar, we’re not going to get anything,” he said.
Citing a successful model from Darien, local conservation officials say they’re thinking of launching a 10K running or walking event in New Canaan that would spotlight the town’s “green link” connecting public parks and the downtown via trails and sidewalks.
Robin Bates-Mason, a Town Council member who sits on the legislative body’s Land Use and Parks & Recreation Committee, and also volunteers with local nonprofit organizations such as Planet New Canaan and the New Canaan Beautification League, said the Darien Land Trust uses an event to bring awareness to its properties around Darien. “It’s quite popular,” Bates-Mason said during last week’s meeting of the Conservation Commission, where she was a guest. Participants pay a $15 fee, she said. The appointed body’s chair, Chris Schipper, said it could be “an interesting project.”
“I like the idea of people walking and riding,” Schipper said during the Oct. 14 meeting, held via videoconference.
Referring to his request on behalf of open space advocates to allocate a portion of a $6 million windfall in federal funds through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Schipper added, “And I have, in the course of discussing ARPA funds and allocations of funds, I’ve said we really have to promote walk-ability and bike-ability here in New Canaan and I think we have some support from [the Department of Public Works], we just have to get around some of these state road restrictions.”
“And I can tell you it drives me crazy I come up 106, regularly coming back from Greenwich, and I see young moms with a stroller walking alongside [Route] 106.
In walking her dog in the area of Frogtown Road and the Noroton River, Robin Bates-Mason has gotten a firsthand look at how quickly trash can build up along the roadside and in the waterway itself. People driving along Frogtown, a heavily used east-west connection between Ponus Ridge and Weed Street, often don’t realize how much garbage there is because they’re moving too fast. “And of course, when summer comes in and the vegetation comes in, you don’t see it as well, but when you’re a dog walker and you see it, Frogtown just awful, it’s really bad,” Bates-Mason said. “Unfortunately it’s not the safest route to clean up.”
Even so, as she did a few years ago, Llewellyn Drive resident Lally Jurcik took the lead last week in organizing a neighborhood campaign to get families out and cleaning up, said Bates-Mason, one of several residents of the area who received an email with details. Armed with garbage bags and loaned “grabbers” supplied by New Canaan Inlands Wetlands Director Kathleen Holland—an advocate fo the town’s annual “Clean Your Mile” campaign, more below—Jurcik helped organize more than one dozen volunteers who picked up everything from coffee cups, plastic bottles and plastic bags to discarded dog poop bags and beer cans.
A longstanding plan, delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to install a “swap shop” at the Transfer Station, could be completed as early as next year, town officials and local volunteers say. Modeled on Darien’s successful swap shop, the volunteer-staffed facility would include both covered and outdoor areas where permit-holders for the Transfer Station could leave or pick up select items for free, according to Planet New Canaan President Robin Bates-Mason. “It’s supposed to keep things out of the municipal waste stream, the garbage, and also to encourage residents to purchase a Transfer Station pass,” Bates-Mason told NewCanaanite.com. The items likely would include everything from books, toys, stuffed animals, electronics, prints, sports equipment, vases and dishes to bicycles, chairs and other small furniture, she said. New Canaan Public Works Director Tiger Mann said there are offices alongside the former incinerator building at the Transfer Station that could work as a starting point for the indoor portion of a future swap shop.