‘They Needed To Get Out’: New Canaan Family Attendance Up at Waveny Pool in 2020

The town this summer sold as many resident family passes for Waveny Pool as it did the prior year, officials say, and even saw attendance up by 400-plus visitors from 2019. Many dads were home due to COVID-19 virus-related restrictions and “they needed to get out of the home office and relax,” according to Recreation Director Steven Benko,. “I think a lot of dads were off work so they came to the pool with the kids,” Benko said during an Oct. 7 meeting of a Town Council committee, held via videoconference. “Plus it was a hot summer, and there wasn’t a lot of rainy days.”

Citing expected high demand and new restrictions that limit capacity, officials decided in June to only sell passes to the pool, at least for the start of the 2020 season, to residents of New Canaan.

Parks Officials To Dog Walkers at Waveny: Carry Used Poop Bags Back Out

Town officials are urging Waveny visitors to carry their trash out, following complaints regarding full dog poop bags left inside the popular park. In addition to a section of Waveny along Lapham Road near the Merritt Parkway where dog-walkers long have dropped the used bags, the area commonly known as “the cornfields” in the park’s southeastern corner is seeing full bags left behind, officials said Wednesday night during the Parks & Recreation Commission’s regular meeting. “This is absolutely an outcry for the residents of New Canaan to really understand the carry-in and carry-out of a park that is getting more use than it ever has, and I think we are extremely lucky to have such beautiful facilities,” Commission Chair Rona Siegel said during the appointed body’s meeting, held via videoconference. “And to see them treated in such a manner is beyond disturbing. So I would just reiterate that this is the time with the use and all the effort and sweat that goes into these parks to make them beautiful and for everyone that people are reminded to take their trash with them.”

For years, the problems of discarded poop bags and dog waste left uncollected at parks such as Waveny and Irwin has resurfaced.

Rec Director: ‘Non-Summer’ at Kiwanis Due to COVID, YMCA

The town couldn’t open Kiwanis Park to the public in the way it had planned this summer, officials say, not only because of the COVID-19 pandemic but also because a local organization that took over the Old Norwalk Road property for its own campers left it in sub-par condition. In years past, residents including Kiwanis pass-holders and Recreation Department campers, among others, have split use of the beach at the park’s swimming hole with the New Canaan YMCA. This year, citing space restrictions due to COVID-19, town officials approved a new lease that gave the Y exclusive weekday use of Kiwanis for its camp, limiting public access to 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, and open use on weekends. As a result, “the summer was a non-summer,” according to Recreation Director Steve Benko, “because we ran into the COVID situation and we ended up leasing the whole complex to the Y.”

“That really affected the attendance,” Benko told members of the Town Council Land Use, Recreation and Conservation Committee during their Oct. 7 meeting, held via videoconference.

Commission Rejects ‘Pollinator Garden’ at Mead Park

The Parks & Recreation Commission on Wednesday night denied a request from local volunteers seeking permission to install pollinating plants on a traffic island at Mead Park. The “pollinator garden,” proposed for the traffic island near the little fields and entrance to the Mead Park Playground, was designed as part of a larger “pathway” serving butterflies, birds, bees and other insects and animals that move pollen from one plant to another. Several New Canaan organizations have been at work for more than one year to increase pollinator-friendly habitat here. Yet members of the appointed Parks & Rec Commission said they feared planting pollinator-friendly species at the traffic island would bring additional bee stings and motor vehicle traffic to a largely pedestrian area. 

“That’s just such a busy place in terms of automobile traffic,” Commissioner Hank Green said at the meeting, held via videoconference. “A lot of big SUVs, a lot of these cars are being driven by teens.

Parks & Rec: Tennis Court Usage Up Amid COVID-19 Emergency

Officials say they’ve seen a sharp rise among residents seeking passes to play tennis at Mead Park this summer. 

The town has sold 216 total passes compared to 144 last year, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Steve Haberstroh said during the appointed body’s regular meeting Wednesday. 

Within those figures, the number of adult passes has increased year-over-year from 59 to 115, while youth passes have increased from 17 to 42, Haberstroh said during the meeting, held via videoconference. 

“Likely due to COVID, people are interested in tennis again,” he said during an update on tennis activity. 

The courts at Mead Park and New Canaan High School both are seeing robust regular use, Haberstroh said. On good weather days, 35 to 45 courts are used daily at each location, he said. Starting May 10, the high school courts began requiring users to register ahead of time to use the courts and had an attendant there to ensure CDC and U.S. Tennis Association guidelines are followed, and 450 people signed up, Haberstroh said. The only user group buying fewer passes is seniors, down slightly from 65 in 2019 to 56 this summer, he said. The reason for the overall increase likely is that residents are looking to do outdoor sports and to social-distance amid the COVID-19 public health emergency, Parks & Rec commissioners said.