Saying they’d make an exception amid the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the Police Commission last week approved a road closure downtown for a sports team’s annual fundraiser.
The Police Commission voted 3-0 in favor of closing South Avenue before Elm Street—the former “Pop Up Park” area—so that New Canaan Crew can hold its “Ergathon” event on Saturday, Sept. 26.
The appointed body noted that the crew team would have difficulty holding the event on a sidewalk downtown, given that many restaurants have “bumped out” onto the sidewalk during the pandemic to create more outdoor dining space.
Chair Paul Foley said the event brings good visibility to a worthy sports and self-funded sports team.
“I think people are not aware how successful this team effort has been,” Foley said at the Aug. 26 meeting, held via videoconference. “These kids have represented us on a national level and they get taken onto major institutions, major colleges because of their activities on a crew team.”
Foley, Secretary Jim McLaughlin and Commissioner Shekaiba Bennett voted in favor of the road closure. The road will be closed from about 7 a.m. to 12 p.m., giving New Canaan Crew time to set up and break down. Approval still is required from an administrative team that manages a town-wide calendar to make sure such events are not overlapping or creating traffic problems, and insurance will be needed.
New Canaan’s Eileen Thomas, representing New Canaan Crew, noted that the event has been running about 20 years and that it used to happen in front of The Playhouse on Elm Street, but that the ergometer machines were so large that they blocked traffic, and last year it was moved to the Pop-Up Park.
“It is our major fundraiser,” Thomas said. “Unlike many of the other high school sports teams, we do not get any money from the Booster Club, so it’s our main source of funding, is this fundraiser that we run.”
McLaughlin said he had reservations about “closing off streets for these kinds of events because there are so many worthy causes and charities, sports teams, social groups et cetera, that what I am concerned about is setting a precedent that other groups come to us and how do we say no and have our roads closed frequently, which is an inconvenience for our citizens now.”
“Given that it has been done, I guess I would not oppose it but I would note for the record that I am very concerned about setting a precedent that many other worthy causes will come and say, ‘We want to close off the street for our event or our happening,’ ” McLaughlin said. “So I would approve it with the caveat that maybe because of COVID this year makes it a special case, but we could say it is not necessarily a precedent.”