‘It’s a Pretty Apparent Conflict’: First Selectman Voices Concern About Parks & Rec Commissioner 

An appointed town official is risking a conflict of interest due to her position on a private nonprofit organization whose work involves the very area of municipal government she’s charged with overseeing, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said last week. Unknown to Moynihan and without permission, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Sally Campbell last year became vice chairman of the Waveny Park Conservancy, he said during a media briefing. 

“She was there [on the Conservancy] as an ex-officio representative to the town government and she somehow thought it was right to become a legal board member and now she continues to come before her own Commission representing the Conservancy,” Moynihan said during the briefing, held in his office at Town Hall. “I don’t understand why she does that.”

He added: “It’s a pretty apparent conflict to me, and I’ve talked to her about it and I don’t understand why she doesn’t get it.”

Asked about her role on the Conservancy, Campbell told NewCanaanite.com in an email: “I am not sure what Kevin’s concern is. As first selectman he advocated to have town reps on many of the non profits in town, Waveny Conservancy being one of them.” She added that she would discuss the matter with Moynihan.

New Access Road Connecting NCHS To Waveny Proposed, Including Parking Expansion

Saying New Canaan High School students already park in the area, town officials are proposing a new access road that will be flanked by parking, connecting the southernmost NCHS lot with an unpaved lot that will be improved and expanded to offer even more spaces. The new access road would run along the same line laid out by the pedestrian path that led to the former Summer Theatre of New Canaan site in Waveny Park and could be gated at either end for specific hours to control vehicular access to the high school, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. 

As it is, the unmilled parking area closest to the water towers yields about 25 parking spaces, or 40 when motorists pull onto the grass and in among trees that flank it, Mann told members of the Parks & Recreation Commission at their most recent meeting. “So the thought was to try and basically make the parking a little bit more uniform and maximize the amount of space that we have and maximize the amount of parking,” he said during the Commission’s March 13 meeting, held at Town Hall. “It’s not going to draw more cars—they are already here in the park—we want them not to park so haphazardly, on the grass and the canopy not under trees, compacting the soil and preventing air and water from getting to the trees and killing the trees.”

The plan would yield about 75 new spaces, he said. In addition, the expanded parking and improved ingress and egress to the the high school would improve emergency vehicle access to the campus, and would help serve new turf athletic fields that town officials envision using as a revenue source by hosting regional sports events, Mann said.

Waveny Pond Dredging, New Observation Deck and Trail Coming This Summer

Town officials say they plan to dredge Waveny Pond this summer and install amenities including an observation deck and new elevated walkway trail under the widely anticipated centerpiece of a public-private partnership. 

The pond in the past has filled in with sediment that’s reduced its inflow and led to algae blooms, Public Works Director told members of the Parks & Recreation Commission during their March 13 meeting at Town Hall. Under a project that’s expected to cost New Canaan about $170,000 with at least that much to be paid additionally by the Waveny Park Conservancy, the town will dredge the pond to a depth of about eight feet, Mann said. The pond’s outflow structure is in good contain and will receive new railings that used to line a pedestrian path near South Avenue. “We will add that railing around as a barrier to anyone to prevent them from falling in, so it will give us a little continuity between the pond dredging and the trails and Waveny itself,” Mann said. Unveiled more than three years ago, plans for Waveny Pond have undergone multiple iterations.

Parks Officials Propose Lower Rates for Mead Park Tennis Permits, Non-Resident Option

Saying lower rates could increase use of a public facility that’s seen a decline in interest, town officials last week voted unanimously to recommend a new slate of fees for Mead Park tennis permits. Parks & Recreation Commissioner Steve Haberstroh, a member of the appointed body’s Tennis Committee, said the reduced fees and introduction of a new type of permit for non-residents are part of a multi-pronged approach to reinvigorating interest in tennis in New Canaan. Officials also pare planning to create new and better programming at Mead Park tennis courts, he said during the Commission’s March 13 meeting. Haberstroh noted that officials must have clean data on facility use in hand in order to make decisions about the courts—for example, whether some of them should be re-purposed. “We want a robust tennis program and so we’ve started to do work understand what is going on,” Haberstroh said during the meeting, held at Town Hall.