Town officials this week approved the hiring of a part-time gardener to help with plantings around buildings in Waveny Park.
The Board of Selectmen voted 3-0 during its regular meeting Tuesday to approve the hiring of Ray Martin on a part-time basis to work around Waveny House and Lapham Community Center.
Ensuring that plantings installed by nonprofit groups such as the New Canaan Beautification League, Waveny Park Conservancy and New Canaan Garden Club get the attention they need is “a niche that we are not filling,” according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann.
“Our parks staff does a fantastic job on all of our grounds,” he said during the meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. “This is one area where we are lacking, where we feel that it would be a good thing to have someone on hand to take a look and make sure that everything looks good for a wedding, an event or just the fact that it’s Waveny. It’s the crown jewel of New Canaan.”
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectmen Kathleen Corbet and Nick Williams voted 3-0 in favor of hiring Ray Martin for the month of October, with a plan to bring him back on a part-time basis for March through November starting in 2022. He would be paid about $12,000 annually for the work, and funds for this fiscal year are in the budget, Mann said.
The nonprofit organizations that help with Waveny’s grounds “are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to beautify the area, and we don’t have someone on our staff with that commensurate type of abilities so to speak,” he said.
Martin already is on staff at the Country Club of New Canaan, and will continue to work there year-round, Mann said. He’s a licensed arborist and also “has a custom grounds and pesticides license, which is something that we would make mandatory for our staff,” Mann said.
Martin “has done fantastic work there,” Mann said, referring to the Country Club.
Asked whether Waveny has had such a dedicated gardener before, Moynihan said, “No, we have had Mr. Benko planting flowers.” He referred to Recreation Director Steve Benko.
Asked whether Martin would be responsible for installation or maintenance, Mann said both. Projects currently are wrapping up in front of Waveny House, and groups such as the Garden Club help maintain the parterre and walled gardens east of the house, “but certainly Ray can walk in and see what is happening,” and make recommendations about pest control, Mann said.
While Martin will report to the parks superintendent, he also would collaborate with landscape architects or installers brought in by the private groups.
“I think it will be a nice symbiosis,” Mann said.
He added, “This will help kind of bridge the gap. They are coming in and doing all this work and they are doing some of the maintenance, but we feel we should follow suit as well.”