During a testy meeting last week, parks officials said the ‘Caffeine & Carburetors’ auto enthusiasts’ gathering at Waveny in June violated several of the conditions established for the event.
Though the June 17 show “was very well attended and it was a beautiful day” and “people seemed to really enjoy it,” still some members of the Parks & Recreation Commission “were concerned that some of the procedures we asked to be put in place were not followed,” Commission Chair Sally Campbell said Wednesday night.
“We had some controls over who was coming and exhibiting cars, and we wanted to ensure that our fields and our park weren’t damaged and then we were concerned about safety,” Campbell said at the meeting, held at Lapham Community Center. “All of these are very correctable. But we just wanted to bring them up because we thought they were very important.”
According to Campbell, about half of the exhibitors who had registered in advance did not display show placards on their windshields, many spectators appeared to drive into Waveny by South Avenue instead of parking at New Canaan High School, as planned, exhibitor cars were parked in front of the footpath along the main road through Waveny, forcing pedestrian traffic into the roadway and unauthorized food trucks were selling food and creating a mess.
In response, the event’s founder and operator, New Canaan resident Doug Zumbach, noted that it was difficult once show cars entered Waveny to track them all the way to parking spots with placards in windshields, that an unscheduled, well-attended playoff baseball game was taking place at the same time as C&C, bringing non-exhibitor-car motor vehicles into the park, and that he and other show organizers had walked through the area a few days before the event and had come to understand that it was OK for show cars to park on either side of the pedestrian footpath.
The next C&C at Waveny is planned for Oct. 21. Launched on Pine Street outside Zumbach’s eponymous coffee shop, C&C now is held four times per year—twice in Waveny and twice downtown—and draws thousands of people to New Canaan. Zumbach pays for insurance and police so that the event can run, has set it up to benefit local organizations and makes donations to the community himself.
When Campbell said there need to be signs directing spectators to park at NCHS for the Waveny show, Zumbach commended CERT for helping in this regard and noted that there was, in fact, a sign directing motorists there.
Campbell responded, “I went by and I did not see it so maybe next time it needs to be more visible, OK?”
When Zumbach noted that he can’t legally stop motorists from entering a public park, Campbell responded, “Well, you are going to have to figure out a way to do that.”
Zumbach said, “I can’t. I’m not allowed. It’s not my park. I’m just saying it’s a public park. If someone wants to use the soccer fields or [platform] tennis courts or dog park—”
Campbell interjected: “We can put up signs for people who want to use the park that they can swing around and park in the dog park.”
Regarding the food truck, Zumbach noted that the vendor had gone through the town to get proper permitting and that he thought the recreation director had OK’d the truck.
Campbell said that while the food truck was on site, a mess began to materialize because “they did not have adequate trash, they just didn’t.”
Zumbach began to respond, “We cleared the park up—“
Campbell interjected: “I didn’t say that you didn’t. I just saying it was really unsightly and I’m not saying you were not a good steward in cleaning up the park. But first of all, I don’t think we would approved a food truck and we were surprised it was there.”
When Zumbach asked why C&C couldn’t allow a food truck in Waveny when they’re allowed in for other events, Campbell responded: “Because we can choose to what allow what is in the park and we didn’t want to make it very commercial, we want it very low key.”
Zumbach started to say, “That doesn’t make sense to me—”
Campbell interjected: “But that is the choice of the Commission.”
Commissioner Francesca Segalas added: “It should just have come up. [You] should let us know, so we can approve or disapprove.”
When Zumbach said the official count of show cars was 723, Campbell responded that the limit was to be 700 and so he must “figure out how to manage” the total figure better “in your software.”
Zumbach and Campbell agreed to meet again prior to the October C&C.
Campbell said: “I think we all need to be consistent on this, to make sure events are safe and as well run as they can be, OK?”