‘The Town Needs To Invest a Little More’: Officials Call for More Funds to Maintain Public Parks’ Grounds


More maintenance is needed in New Canaan’s parks, particularly in landscaping the areas immediately around public buildings, and the officials in charge of them say they’ll seek more money in the upcoming budget season to care properly for the cherished properties.

The Parks Department doesn’t have the funds needed “to adequately maintain the parks,” Sally Campbell, chairman of the Park & Recreation Commission, told members of the Town Council at their Nov. 16 meeting.

“I just still can’t believe the conditions of the landscaping around our town buildings and around our beautiful town assets,” Campbell said at the meeting, held in Town Hall.

“And we are fortunate that [Parks Superintendent] John Howe does an amazing job maintaining the athletic fields and maintaining our baseball diamonds—and those are kind of easier to maintain—but to maintain the landscaping around Lapham [Community Center], or in Irwin Park where the weeds are just all over the place or the town buildings, we just need more money.”

The comments came during a pre-budget season review of parks and recreation before the Town Council, the final funding body to sign off on New Canaan’s spending plan each year.

Joined by Recreation Director Steve Benko, Campbell noted that for the current fiscal year, the town allocated a total of $21,000 for property repair and maintenance of public buildings ($15,000) and property cleaning ($6,000)—see page 96 of the approved FY17 operating budget here.

Yet “the town needs to invest a little more,” she said.

“If you really go around and look at the base of all the town buildings, you will find that they are just not that attractive. They have not been addressed.”

Campbell noted that the very active Waveny Park Conservancy “has stepped up and they are taking care of Waveny Park, which was ignored for many years.”

“But how many other groups are going to do that?” she said. “We do have beautiful park assets and we really should take care of them.”

Town Council Secretary Penny Young thanked Campbell for raising the issue and said, “It’s been a soapbox issue of mine for a number of years.”

“You talk to our Realtors. They drive prospective residents through the parks and you see weeds all over buildings and lots of poison ivy.”
Young urged Campbell to analyze just what it would cost to weed and otherwise care for the properties, and to include a larger request for parkland and building maintenance for the fiscal year 2018 budget.

Town Councilman Christa Kenin also supported the prospect of more spending on maintenance in the public parks, and said the kids’ playground at Mead ranks among assets that need attention. The park serves many of New Canaan’s newest residents, including those with very young children who use the playground, and so “that is a really important park,” Kenin said.

Town Council Vice Chairman Steve Karl said that after a successful meeting one year ago, a subcommittee of the legislative body as well as the Board of Finance should reconvene with Benko again this year to map out ways to keep up New Canaan’s parks.

“We are very supportive of what you are doing and very supportive of the parks,” he said. “It’s our treasure. It’s what we’ve got to attract and keep people in town and keep them healthy. And you’ve got our word that we are here to help.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *