Popularity of Platform Tennis Soars Amid COVID-19

Municipal officials say they’ve seen a steep increase this fall and winter in the number of people playing platform or “paddle” tennis on New Canaan’s town-owned courts at Waveny Park. Revenues generated through selling permits and guest passes for the outdoor sport already have surpassed $70,000 for the paddle tennis season that started in early-October, compared to anticipated revenues of about $46,000, according to Recreation Director Steve Benko. In the past two paddle seasons, which run through mid-April, the town has taken in a total of about $56,000 (fiscal year 2020) and $46,000 (fiscal year 2019) in revenues, Benko told members of the Board of Finance Park & Recreation Budget Subcommittee during a regular meeting Monday. “Paddle is going crazy,” he said during the meeting, held via videoconference. 

“We’ve had an outstanding year so far in paddle tennis. Our revenues are way up in paddle.

Board of Finance Member: New Canaan Should Consider Charging Nonresidents Using Waveny Park

A Board of Finance member said this week that if a substantial number of Waveny Park visitors are from out-of-town, as has been suggested, then New Canaan should consider charging them for entry. The town should consider granting each New Canaan household two or three car passes to Waveny “and then, I don’t know, maybe at some point we charge for parking or something,” Amy Murphy Carroll said during a meeting of the Board’s Parks & Recreation Budget Subcommittee, held Monday via videoconference. “Because it’s expensive to maintain and we have the Waveny Conservancy doing incredible things, we have the paths for doing all that stuff,” she said. “And I just think, you know, we do a lot of stuff in New Canaan that benefits people in a broader way and our taxpayers pay for it all. And I’m not trying to be exclusive, and to the extent that if we did something like this, I think it could go toward the Conservancy or toward [the Recreation Department] budget or something.”

The comments came while Murphy Carroll and two other finance board members, Michael Chen and Tom Schulte, reviewed Recreation Director Steve Benko’s proposed spending plan for fiscal year 2022 in advance of a full Board of Finance meeting.

Rec Director: Summer, Fall Special Events Bookings for Waveny House ‘Strong’

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, people already have shown strong interest in renting out Waveny House for weddings, parties and special events later this year, officials say. The town has seen “a strong rental” interest in the historic house starting at the end of July through October, according to Recreation Director Steve Benko. “We are booked every weekend for events, so hopefully we will be on the uptick and get through this pandemic and they can relax some of the restrictions they have,” Benko told members of the Parks & Recreation Commission during their Jan. 13 meeting, held via videoconference. The comments came during Benko’s update to the appointed body, in response to a question from Commissioner Hank Green about whether Waveny House has remained competitive as a wedding and special events venue.

‘I Don’t Like It’: Parks Commissioner Voices Concerns Over Proposed Fee To Use Tennis Courts at NCHS

Calling it “clubby” and restrictive, a member of the Parks & Recreation Commission last week pushed back on a proposal to start charging residents for use of the tennis courts at New Canaan High School. Commissioner Francesca said the proposed $30 or $35 seasonal pass fee for the hard-surface courts means residents would have no public courts left to play tennis for free, such as Darien residents have in Cherry Lawn Park. “I don’t like it,” she said during the Commission’s regular meeting, held Jan. 13 via videoconference. “We have to pay for everything.

‘A Huge Hit’: Asphalt Pads Installed Under Benches in Spencer’s Run

New Canaan’s popular dog park got an upgrade recently designed to eliminate a hazard and improve the use and beauty of the facility. In the past, when their owners have sat on the half-dozen steel benches scattered throughout the Waveny dog run, some dogs “would lay under the bench and they would dig holes,” according to Recreation Director Steve Benko. “The volunteers were constantly filling holes in,” Benko told members of the Parks & Recreation Commission during their most recent meeting, held Nov. 11 via videoconference. So working with the Department of Public Works, officials had the town’s go-to paving contractor install four-by-eight-foot asphalt pads under each bench in Spencer’s Run, Benko said.