Parks & Rec: Kiwanis Park ‘Is Not Fully Being Used’

Attendance at Kiwanis increased by more than 40% last summer and the park potentially could more than cover costs associated with its operation, officials said last week. Kiwanis Park “is not fully being used for what it should be,” according to Parks & Recreation Commission Chair Rona Siegel. “The facility is incredible inside that concession,” Siegel said during the Commission’s regular meeting, held Jan. 8 at Town Hall. “It is restaurant-grade for the summer and spring months.

Parks & Rec Recommends Raising Nonresident Fee for Waveny Pool by $25

Parks officials on Wednesday voted unanimously to recommend a $25 increase to the fee nonresidents pay for season family passes to Waveny Pool. 

The increase would bring to $1,250 the fee paid by nonresident families for one of 100 nonresident passes that are sold following a lottery. 

Here’s a look at the Parks & Recreation Commission’s proposed fees:

 

Those voting in favor at the Commission’s regular meeting at Town Hall included Chair Rona Siegel, Carl Mason, Jack Hawkins, Laura Costigan, Francesca Segalas, Doug Richardson, Matt Konspore, Steve Haberstroh, Hank Green and Gene Goodman. Commissioner Sally Campbell, attending her last meeting as a member of the appointed body, did not indicate a vote either way. Residents, with the exception of those using nanny passes, may purchase a book of 10 guest passes for $80. The town-owned, self-sustaining Waveny Pool is open each year from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Recreation Director Steve Benko noted that the Commission had adjusted some of the resident fees last year. 

“The individual fee was a little low” prior to last year, Benko said.

Officials Seek Workable Site in Kiwanis Park for Proposed Open-Air Ice Rink

Town officials said Tuesday they’re trying to identify just where in Kiwanis Park would be the best place for a proposed open-air ice rink. 

A leading contender for a seasonal rink site in New Canaan that would be open to the public with an admission charge, Kiwanis is attractive in that it has sufficiently large areas, parking, access to bathrooms, running water and electricity, and structures that could house changing areas, snack bar and skate shop, members of the Parks & Recreation Commission have said. Yet a level area out front of the main pavilion traditionally has been used by a local service organization for a large chunk of the late-November-through-February trial season that Parks & Rec has floated. 

And early cost estimates to level out an area behind the pavilion and install a retaining wall there appear cost-prohibitive, a group of town officials and community volunteers said during a meeting of a Parks & Rec subcommittee. It’s also unclear whether installing the ice rink deeper into the park—on the far side of the swimming hole—would create a sufficiently attractive and workable facility, officials said during the Parks & Rec skating subcommittee meeting. While excavation, fill, retaining wall construction and other costs would push the total expense for an ice rink located between the rear of the pavilion and swimming hole to an estimated $200,000 to $250,000, creating a facility out front of the building, where the Exchange Club of New Canaan in past years has set up its approximately month-long Christmas tree sale would be far less money, official said. Rona Siegel, chair of Parks & Rec, asked whether the club had ever looked at setting up its sale in the Waveny Pool parking lot instead. 

“It’s ideal,” Siegel said at the meeting, held in a conference room at Town Hall.

Parks & Rec Recommends ‘Fields Use’ Fees for Additional Sports Groups in New Canaan 

Members of the Parks & Recreation Commission at their most recent meeting voted unanimously to approve a new slate of fees for groups using town-owned playing fields. 

The fees are to go to a dedicated fund held by the New Canaan Athletic Foundation for the maintenance and upgrade of fields and facilities at locations including New Canaan High School, as per a formal agreement between the nonprofit organization and the town, according to Commissioner Sally Campbell. Youth sports teams in New Canaan already are being assessed a “fields usage fee” on a per player, per season basis, Campbell said during Parks & Rec’s Nov. 13 meeting, held in Lapham Community Center. 

“There were a couple of groups that do use the athletic fields that kind of do not fall under that umbrella, so we met to see if we could bring them under the umbrella because they do use the athletic fields and they do use the dirt fields, and we came to the decision that these groups probably should be charged a fee,” Campbell said. Asked which groups she referred to, Campbell said that men’s softball, flag football and very young soccer players were to be paying a fee “and then it kind of fell through the cracks, so we want to formalize that.”

A fee also will be assessed to runners using Waveny trails in the fall. Following the Commission’s 8-0 vote, groups that now will pay a $25 per player fee include adult rec softball, men’s soccer, men’s lacrosse and Canons baseball; a $20 fee will be assessed to rec flag football players; and a $10 fee will be assed to rec soccer, rec field hockey, young New Canaan Football Club players and participants in a fall track program that uses Waveny.

Rec Director Defends Tennis Programs at Mead Park

During a capital budget discussion that grew testy at times, the head of the New Canaan Recreation Department last week defended reinvigorated town-run tennis programs at Mead Park. Responding to one Parks & Recreation Commission member’s assertion that the clay courts at Mead continue to go largely under-used, Steve Benko said, “We are building our program.”

“If you want to kill my program, then kill it,” Benko told Commissioner Sally Campbell during the appointed body’s Nov. 13 meeting, held at Lapham Community Center. “But my program came back. My tennis grew by almost 60% from last year.”

The comments came as the Commission reviewed the Recreation and Parks Departments’ proposed spending plans for fiscal year 2021.