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.

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.

Parks Officials Approve Formation of ‘Dog Litter Committee’

To address the ongoing complaints about dog owners and walkers failing to clean up after their pets at Irwin and Waveny Parks, the Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously approved at its meeting Tuesday night the formation of a committee of six volunteers who will be permitted to place “Shame on You” flags where animals’ feces are left behind and administer waste bags to those who need them. The Dog Litter Committee members approved by the commission include: Jean Scheidl, Linda Gordon, Lise Schoenfield, Lynn Tilon, Meredith Landis, and Christina Thompson. Commission member Francesca Segalas—who formed a subcommittee with members Hank Green and Steve Haberstoh to help coordinate the “Dog Poo Initiative”—spoke on behalf of the Dog Litter Committee members, who were not present at the meeting, about how Irwin Park visitors are responding to the flags. “The reception has been very positive. There’ve been a few dissenters—maybe one in 10,” she said at the meeting, held in Lapham Community Center.