Town Officials To Draft ‘Code of Conduct’ for Public Parks


Waveny Park on March 24, 2020. Credit: Michael Dinan

Town officials say they’re drafting a Code of Conduct for New Canaan’s public parks.

Members of the Parks & Recreation Commission are researching a Code of Conduct and plan to draft one for review and approval by the full appointed body and, later, the Board of Selectmen, according to Parks & Rec Chair George Benington.

“I think that over the years there have been issues with loud music, alcohol and that kind of stuff, and language,” Benington said during the Commission’s Feb. 7 meeting, held at Lapham Community Center and via videoconference. “So I think to have something that particularly if [Assistant Parks Superintendent] Ryan [Restivo] or [Assistant Recreation Director] Zack [Philippas] are in the parks and they see something, they can say, ‘This is the Code of Conduct policy.’ If we’re in the park and we see something, we can do that as well.”

The comments came during Benington’s general update to the Commission.

Members of Parks & Rec already working on a draft are Lindsey Heron and Douglas Murphy, Benington said.

“There are other towns that have such policies,” he said. “So hopefully it won’t be too cumbersome. Don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

New Canaan does appear to address some of the issues that Benington flagged in its existing ordinances. For example, Section 42-8 (A) of the Town Code bans alcohol in public parks without a town-issued permit, and (E) of the same section specifies: “Loitering and boisterousness. No person shall sleep or protractedly lounge on seats, benches or other areas, or engage in loud, boisterous, threatening, abusive, insulting or indecent language, or engage in any disorderly conduct or behavior tending to a breach of the public peace.”

Nearby towns also appear to have formal regulations for conduct in public parks. For example, Darien’s regulations for parks include clauses on “offensive conduct”—namely, “No person shall engage in threatening, abusive, insulting or indecent language, or engage in any disorderly conduct or behavior that breaches the public peace”—as well as “noise and music”: “No person shall make unreasonable noise in any Park so as to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or harm. Use of a speaker, amplifier or microphone is limited to Group Events approved by the Department.”

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