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

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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. Sales of passes to local seniors were down. The opening of the pool, usually set for Memorial Day weekend, was delayed by a few weeks as the town awaited guidance from the state amid the first months of COVID-19 here.

In the end, the town decided not to sell passes to nonresidents, Benko told members of the Town Council Land Use, Recreation and Conservation Committee—a major source of revenue for the pool.

Councilman Maria Naughton asked whether New Canaan saw a rise in revenue with the additional local visitors.

Benko said no, “because we lost 23 days of the pool season.”

“The pool has about a 90-day season, so we lost a quarter of season,” Benko said. “So what we did was, we reduced the family fee from $450 to $300. We did not see an increase in revenue.”

Benko said that public health restrictions put a cap on how many people could be in the Waveny Pool at one time, and that the summer hires kept count. Though in-person meets were not possible for the swim team, the athletes held “virtual” competitions where teams used their own pool and compared times to decide who won.

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