‘We Will Figure Out What Is the Best Uniform One’: Parks Officials Seek to Standardize Benches in New Canaan

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Town officials say they’re pulling together an inventory of all the different types and styles of park benches in New Canaan, with an eye on creating a more uniform look and feel. 

Members of the Parks & Recreation Commission said at their most recent meeting that they’d like to “standardize the benches” so that there’s less variety on a per-park basis.

“These are different from the memorial benches—we are also going to get a protocol together for that,” Commissioner Francesca Segalas said at the group’s regular meeting, held July 11 in the Lapham Community Center.

“But each of these places has different benches and chairs and picnic tables. We all know Irwin has the Adirondack type look, and the Apple Cart-looking tables at Mead with the cross-hatch green, and so each of the parks has a difference. But some of them have four or five different variations and [Commissioner] Laura [Costigan] and I are accumulating data and pictures and then we will figure out what is the best uniform one to have at each of the parks.”

Recreation Director Steve Benko noted that many of the teak benches in New Canaan parks are 25 years old. 

Segalas said that most of those are memorial benches. 

“They are supposed to have like a 10-year-life, right?” she said.

Commission Chair Sally Campbell said the overabundance of bench types is especially prevalent at Kiwanis Park on Old Norwalk Road.

“The interesting thing is—Francesca shared some pictures—in Kiwanis, I swear, every bench in the park is different,” Campbell said. “There’s like 10 different types of benches in the park. Nothing pulls together. So we are looking for something to pull together.”

The inventorying effort is meant “to kind of beautify the parks a little bit more,” Campbell said.

Segalas said, “Just in Kiwanis, there is fiberglass, there is the Y Camp ones, there are the boxed wood ones—and this is within the same playground area—and then there are the anchored ones under the pagoda.”

According to Campbell, the final report on benches is to come before the Commission in September.

5 thoughts on “‘We Will Figure Out What Is the Best Uniform One’: Parks Officials Seek to Standardize Benches in New Canaan

  1. Some years ago I was told by the Parks and Rec Director that there is “no money in the budget” to replace benches in Kiwanis Park.
    My son and I decided to sand and paint the benches by the basketball court for the benefit of the park users and Y campers. These benches are decades old. I have photos to share as well.
    There were benches by the Merrie Bee Cabin that were missing slates and broken. These were finally removed (thank goodness!) after much discussion by me with the Parks and Rec Department. Many neighbors and visitors would agree that Kiwanis Park is not maintained to the same standard as the other parks: compare the bathrooms, for example, with the ones by the Waveny Pool.
    This is the third year that there is functional NO WATER FOUNTAIN by the beach. Can we please get a functional nice looking water fountain like the one at Waveny Pool?????

  2. This strikes me as a waste of time and money. Don’t we have more important problems to address with our tax dollars? If not, maybe our taxes are too high.

    • To be clear, there’s been no expenditure to date on this effort. The Parks & Rec Commission is a volunteer, advisory body, and I don’t think any Recreation Department staff has been involved in this data-gathering so far. What could happen is that come fall, the Commission makes its recommendation about getting rid of benches ABC and purchasing XYZ. Those types of expenditures would need approval either from the selectmen as one-off contracts or would be built into a capital budget request from Recreation as items the Board of Finance and Town Council both would need to approve.

      • Hi Mike,

        I should have been clearer. I meant that replacing benches that are still in good condition just for the sake of standardizing the look & feel across parks seems like a waste of money. If a bench will be replaced anyway due to damage or that it has reached the end of its useful life, then standardizing through that type of attrition makes sense.

  3. If a bench gets hit for example in winter by a snow plow, it is terminated for future use or replaced by another memorial bench. I have seen some with a memorial plaque of a former deceased schoolmate; there should be provision to repair or reassign a memorial plaque if damaged, even to have multiple plaques on a bench.

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