Members of New Canaan’s legislative body said last week that they’ll consider adopting a formal process for naming public property after individuals—for example, to honor local philanthropists.
No such process currently exists, according to Town Council Chairman John Engel.
“There is no formal price, there is no formal criteria,” he said during the elected body’s regular meeting, held June 19 at Town Hall.
“How we feel about naming Mead Park, an enormous asset, versus a smaller asset may be different. So one set of criteria might not fit every eventuality.”
He referred to a former swamp on Park Street that the town in 1915 designated as a park named for Benjamin P. Mead, who had died two years earlier. Mead, an 1887 co-founder of the Free Reading Room—predecessor to the New Canaan Library—had been a seven-term first selectman in New Canaan as well as a state senator and controller.
Last week’s discussion came up as the Town Council voted unanimously to name Waveny Pond after Harlan and Lois Anderson. The Parks and Recreation Commission and Board of Selectmen had already voted in favor of the change.
Councilman Steve Karl, chair of the Town Council Bylaws and Ordinances Committee, noted that town officials in the present case took the steps that New Canaan now has in place. He added that Town Attorney Ira Bloom, responding to an inquiry about whether the Committee should formalize a naming policy, sent back Westport’s version.
“We can look at it in the Ordinance Committee to see if there is something we can add to make it more formal than what we have now,” Karl said. “It is at least worth exploring.”
Karl added that the Andersons were “amazing, amazing people.”
Town Council Vice Chairman Sven Englund said, “Those of us who are fortunate enough to know Harlan and Lois, know that they felt that they were truly blessed in their lives and certainly shared those blessings with all of us.”
“They were really good people,” he said.
In presenting to town bodies, members of an organization connected to Waveny said the Andersons’ three children had requested the name change and that the Harlan and Lois Anderson Foundation gave $350,000 toward a pond restoration project.
Among other examples of generosity, Lois Anderson had been a founder of Meals On Wheels in New Canaan while Harlan Anderson helped co-found the ABC House of New Canaan and New Canaan Inn, and was a charter member of the New Canaan Land Trust, officials said.
The Parks & Recreation Commission last fall voted unanimously in favor of a new policy regarding donated benches at public parks. It isn’t clear whether the town has adopted that policy, which sets price points for such donations and caps the life of the benches to 10 years.
The name change at the pond was presented by Waveny Park Conservancy. In making the case for the pond renaming, the group’s chairman, Caroline Garrity, referred to Mead and Irwin Parks as well as Spencer’s Run, Lapham Community Center and the Bristow Bird Sanctuary and Wildwood Preserve.