Parks officials last week voted 7-1 to allow a nonprofit organization that funds landscaping projects in Waveny to pay for six months of having a private company install and empty four trash cans designed to collect used dog poop bags.
The Waveny Park Conservancy will pay Stamford-based Doggie Doo Not! $1,930 to install pole-mounted green metal mesh receptacles in three different areas of the park.
There’s a “burgeoning problem of the pet waste that is being left all over Waveny,” according to Jane Gamber, a Conservancy board member.
The receptacles would go on either end of what locals know as the “cornfields” area in the southeast corner of Waveny, as well as in the parking lot near the Powerhouse Theater and Lapham Road trail entrance but the Merritt Parkway, she said.
“Each of the stations would include one of the round cans,” Gamber said. “They have a lid on them that is spring-loaded so that they remain closed. Water doesn’t get in, snow. Things of that nature. Any animals, I guess, who may be interested in getting in, are also not able to. They are mounted on a steel and aluminum post and obviously would have signage saying ‘pet waste only.’ ”
Commission Chair Rona Siegel and members Laura Costigan, Gene Goodman, Hank Green, Steve Haberstroh, Carl Mason and Francesca Segalas voted yes. Commissioner Matt Konspore voted no. Jack Hawkins arrived late to the meeting. The Commission had discussed the situation last month.
At no point during the Conservancy’s 12-minute presentation did Gamber or the commissioners use the term “dog poop,” opting instead for “pet waste,” “stuff,” “this,” “these things” and “the contents” (of bags). That limited vocabulary appeared at times to create problems of description. For example, asked whether the Conservancy is planning to publicize its project, Gamber noted that New Canaan parks have a carry-in, carry-out policy “and that we would expect people to not just carry out their trash but their—whatever else comes out with them.”
“It’s clear that people are not carrying this out,” Gamber said. “People are leaving a lot of trash behind as well, but with this particular thing, it’s—we had not thought to publicize it. We will have signage, ‘pet waste only,’ because we do not want to be collecting all the Starbucks cups in town.”
The receptacles will not include bag dispensers, she said.
“They currently bring in their own bags,” Gamber said of those walking dogs at Waveny. “It’s very clear, they seem to pick it up and then they deposit it. It is flung in trees, it is tucked behind anything they can find. They also just leave it right on the trails and right on the lawns.”
Commissioners asked whether Doggie Doo Not! is emptying dog poop bag receptacles from other parks (yes, and from private properties such as the Heritage Hill Road condominiums), whether other trash deposited in the receptacles will be removed by Doggie Doo Not! (yes) and whether the Conservancy will keep paying for the service if the 6-month trial succeeds (that’s unclear, the organization is only agreeing to fund these six months).
Goodman asked “what the normal is” in terms of dog poop waste, nothing that “we do not have a baseline” for comparison in order to gauge success. The Commission also should take into account “we are talking about winter time,” Goodman said.
“I would assume that late spring, summer, early fall are more active periods as well,” he said. “Have you thought about that at all?”
Gamber said yes.
“One of the advantages to doing it in the winter time is that if we do have any snow this year, very often these things are left out,” she said of the full bags. “The good news is that ideally they won’t be obscured by the snow. People won’t be tripping on them and slipping on them. But definitely if we see that it is a success in the winter and colder months, then going into the summer, we may have to increase our number of receptacles and/or the frequency of removal.”
Regarding a way to measure the success of the receptacles, she said, “Part of this is just going to have to be anecdotal from the standpoint of how many bags we each see as we walk around the park. Is it less? Is it the same? Our thesis, of course, is that it will help to alleviate much of the problem.”
The Conservancy renamed the cornfields area “Jeniam Meadow” after donors to a project there.