‘It Takes a Village’: Parks & Rec Chair Spotlights Volunteer Efforts

The chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission at the appointed body’s most recent meeting voiced appreciation for six local volunteer efforts in New Canaan. Rona Siegel in providing an update during the Commission’s Oct. 16 meeting credited individual residents and nonprofit organizations that have enhanced or are expected to improve areas of public parks here in various ways. “I think it takes a village,” Siegel said at the meeting, held at Lapham Community Center. “And as much as there are things that are bumps in the road, there are a lot of people that make stuff happen in New Canaan.”

She named: the Waveny Park Conservancy for its work in and around the pond at the foot of the sledding hill; New Canaan High School graduate Celia Sokolowski, who installed “bat houses” at local parks as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project; NCHS senior Henry Pohle, who for his Eagle Scout project installed two new benches dedicated to local veterans at the memorial Gold Star Walk in Mead Park; and Allyson Mahoney and Monica Capela, who led the Friends of Mead Park Playground’s efforts, in conjunction with the town, to get new equipment and a poured-in-place rubberized surface there.

‘Our Hands Are Tied’: Parks & Rec Chair Voices Frustration Regarding Security Cameras at Waveny

Saying she and others researched a proposed installation of security cameras at Waveny’s entrances, the head of the New Canaan Parks & Recreation Commission on Wednesday night voiced frustration about what appears now to be the appointed body’s inability to make a formal recommendation on the widely discussed matter. Faced with a petition calling for the cameras that now has garnered more than 2,200 digital signatures, the Commission earlier this summer formed a subcommittee to study the issue, solicited an expert recommendation from police, met with vendors and prepared to request a $25,000 special appropriation for the installation. The Commission was “ready to move forward,” Chair Rona Siegel said at its regular meeting, held in Town Hall. “However, we were just informed that it is not in the purview of Parks and Rec to determine where security cameras go, it is [up to] the Board of Selectmen and the first selectman, Kevin Moynihan, to determine and that, lucky us, we’ll just be stuck with the aesthetics of the cameras.”

Addressing the petition’s creator, Hilary Ormond, a guest at the meeting, Siegel continued, “So I share your frustration, because I think that the time and effort put on that was meant for whatever the outcome and recommendation from the police chief was, but we are here with our hands are tied.”

Moynihan, also a guest at the meeting, said he had issued a statement on Waveny and cameras and that he intends to meet with the Police Commission to discuss the matter. “Public safety is the Police Department’s responsibility, and when I observed how flailing our staff was over this issue, I realized it was not being handled properly, so we are working on a plan and we will come forward with a plan for the selectmen, working with the Police Commission,” he said.

Selectman Williams: Concerns About Waveny Park Safety Have Been ‘Politicized’

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.

‘Take Some Responsibility’: Officials Urge Mead Park Playground Visitors To Carry Trash Back Out

Town officials are urging Mead Park visitors to remove their trash from a newly installed playground area that came to be as a result of a successful public-private partnership. 

New Canaan is proud of the new playground and those that raised funds to help pay for the project, “and so I guess for me it’s just a public request, too: Whatever you take in, make sure you take it out, just like camping,” Parks & Recreation Chair Rona Siegel said during the appointed body’s regular meeting, held July 10 at Town Hall. 

“And there are trash cans near the concessions, near the driving area,” Siegel said. A collaboration between the town and Friends of Mead Park Playground–a private effort overseen by two New Canaan women that saw more than $200,000 raised thanks to scores of individual donors as well as generous local businesses and nonprofit organizations—the remade play area replaces aging, deteriorating equipment and includes a “poured-in-place” rubberized surface. After some weather-related delays, the playground was finished and ready for use prior to the Fourth of July, though almost immediately trash began collecting in the area. 

Parks Commissioner Jack Hawkins asked whether trash cans had been installed around the playground area itself. Told that they had not, he said, “Can we discuss tat and can we get some down there? I think having a trashcan available down there will help prevent littering.”

John Howe, superintendent of parks with the New Canaan Department of Public Works, said that before the town moved to a “carry in-carry out” policy, “we had much more garbage blowing around.”

“Blowing around the trash cans, anything from squirrels getting inside and chewing their way out, to ‘Well it’s close enough, it’s near the trash can,’ ” Howe said.

Parks & Rec Reviews Town-Owned Properties as Possible Sites for Future Ice Rink 

Kiwanis Park, two sports fields along Farm Road at New Canaan High School, artificial turf fields near the water towers and the parking lot south of the softball Orchard Field at Waveny all are contenders as potential sites for a proposed open-aired ice rink, officials said last week. 

Those areas appear to meet the rigid criteria needed for a seasonal rink in New Canaan that would be open to the public with an admission charge, under a proposal that Parks & Recreation Commissioner Gene Goodman is developing as a member of the appointed body. Goodman said that after consulting with recreation and public works officials, several other candidates—such as at Mead Park, the New Canaan Nature Center, Saxe Middle School and Conner Field—had to be rejected for a variety of reasons. A potential site must be level, big enough to accommodate a 120-by-60-foot rink with an additional 10-foot perimeter as well as space for temporary structures (snack bar, changing area, skate shop, office, Zamboni machine), access to bathrooms and running water and electricity, and parking for at least 40 vehicles, Goodman told members of the Commission at their July 10 meeting. “What ofttimes looks like a viable alternative, has a lot of cost considerations and negatives,” Goodman said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. Goodman said he’s working on narrowing down his list of potential candidate sites and hopes that the the subcommittee he’s leading could bring a recommendation to the full Commission this fall.