‘You’re Promoting Bad Behavior’: Parks Officials Push Back on Installing Additional Trash Bin at Waveny


Where the Waveny trail along the Merritt Parkway hits Lapham Road. Credit: Michael Dinan

Parks officials last week pushed back on the idea of placing an additional trash receptacle in a trouble spot at Waveny where dog owners tend to dump used poop bags.

Installing a bin near the turn at Lapham Road above the Merritt Parkway would amount to “promoting bad behavior,” according to Parks Superintendent John Howe.

“By putting a trash can in there, you are allowing people then to stack it another 40 feet away and when we had trash cans all over the parks and all over our school fields, they were in worse shape because people had a knack of saying, ‘It’s near the trash can, it’s close enough,’ ” Howe told members of the Parks & Recreation Commission at their June 12 meeting in Town Hall. “You have animals that will take out the garbage and strew it around. I would sooner keep going like we are, removing the bag.”

He referred to a bag that a park visitor ties to a tree to receive the used bags.

The comments came in response to a question by Commissioner Sally Campbell. During the May meeting, Campbell said public works officials had agreed that putting in an additional trash receptacle was a good idea.

“We put one in at Irwin and it made a big difference,” Campbell told Howe.

He responded, “There are a lot of pitfalls with starting putting trash cans in at different spots and I highly recommend against doing it.”

Asked by Campbell whether parks workers remove the visitor-posted bag already used for dog poop bags along the trail, Howe said yes.

“We don’t do it daily but we do remove that bag,” he said. “We run into another problem with trash cans especially with dog poop where they are so heavy that I lost one of my men to permanent disability from lifting up trash. He stopped working. It’s definitely an issue.”

Campbell said that the problem of accumulating waste bags compounds itself.

“As soon as one person puts a bag down, everybody does, it’s awful,” she said.

Chair Rona Siegel said she passes by the area regularly and that she would keep an eye on it.

5 thoughts on “‘You’re Promoting Bad Behavior’: Parks Officials Push Back on Installing Additional Trash Bin at Waveny

  1. I have run and walked in Waveny on a regular basis for the past 33 years. As a result I have seen it go from a single track muddy and at times overgrown set of paths to the well groomed walking paths we have now, with a lot more people using the park. I have noticed the plastic garbage bag tied to the tree, it seems to me that if a private citizen is willing to tie a garbage bag to a tree near the Lapaham road/merrit trail head, as their solution to the bags of dog poop, and it works, the town would simply put a real trash receptacle in place of the trash bag. I can verify that it is used to the point of overflowing very quickly. It seems like they have provided a simple solution to a much discussed problem in New Canaan Parks. Simply put a receptacle at the trail head on farm road, and Lapham. I think they have shown that there is a need. They could be placed so that they are at the very beginning of the trail, so as to be more easily accessable for emptying as well. Just a thought!

  2. Did I really just read that a town sanitation worker is permanently disabled from the act of lifting a full bag of dog poop!? My twelve year old wouldn’t even try to scam that one.

  3. Another reason for not allowing any parking on either side of Lapham Rd from Parkway bridge to main entrance to Waveny

  4. Really! Of course there should be more receptacles ….empty them regularly and you won’t have a problem. Works at Erwin park.

  5. We say we want more people to use and enjoy our parks. More people = more trash. More trash being created means we need more cans emptied more frequently. I emptied those kinds of cans once upon a time as a county employee, they do get very heavy which is why having more of them–that are emptied as frequently as needed–prevents them from becoming overloaded, unsightly, and too heavy to safely manage. And, it turns out people will tell you (or show you) where they need/want cans if you will listen. Once, a new ‘park’ was opened, but no paths laid out. They just let people walk where they wanted. In a very short period of time, paths became evident as people walked where they found it most useful and desirable. Then, the paths were surfaced and made permanent. The users decided where they wanted to walk instead of designers telling them where they thought they should walk. Next, lots of cans were put in place. The ones that were used frequently were left, sometimes doubled in number. The ones lightly used if at all, removed. People walked where they wanted to walk and used the trash receptacles where they found they wanted and needed them. “If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talking.” –Robert Baden-Powell

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