Parks & Rec: Kiwanis Park ‘Is Not Fully Being Used’

Attendance at Kiwanis increased by more than 40% last summer and the park potentially could more than cover costs associated with its operation, officials said last week. Kiwanis Park “is not fully being used for what it should be,” according to Parks & Recreation Commission Chair Rona Siegel. “The facility is incredible inside that concession,” Siegel said during the Commission’s regular meeting, held Jan. 8 at Town Hall. “It is restaurant-grade for the summer and spring months.

Parks & Rec Recommends ‘Fields Use’ Fees for Additional Sports Groups in New Canaan 

Members of the Parks & Recreation Commission at their most recent meeting voted unanimously to approve a new slate of fees for groups using town-owned playing fields. 

The fees are to go to a dedicated fund held by the New Canaan Athletic Foundation for the maintenance and upgrade of fields and facilities at locations including New Canaan High School, as per a formal agreement between the nonprofit organization and the town, according to Commissioner Sally Campbell. Youth sports teams in New Canaan already are being assessed a “fields usage fee” on a per player, per season basis, Campbell said during Parks & Rec’s Nov. 13 meeting, held in Lapham Community Center. 

“There were a couple of groups that do use the athletic fields that kind of do not fall under that umbrella, so we met to see if we could bring them under the umbrella because they do use the athletic fields and they do use the dirt fields, and we came to the decision that these groups probably should be charged a fee,” Campbell said. Asked which groups she referred to, Campbell said that men’s softball, flag football and very young soccer players were to be paying a fee “and then it kind of fell through the cracks, so we want to formalize that.”

A fee also will be assessed to runners using Waveny trails in the fall. Following the Commission’s 8-0 vote, groups that now will pay a $25 per player fee include adult rec softball, men’s soccer, men’s lacrosse and Canons baseball; a $20 fee will be assessed to rec flag football players; and a $10 fee will be assed to rec soccer, rec field hockey, young New Canaan Football Club players and participants in a fall track program that uses Waveny.

Parks Officials Pooh-Pooh Proposed Bocce Court at Irwin

Town officials last week pooh-poohed a local woman’s suggestion that one or two bocce courts go in at Irwin Park, saying she should seek alternate locations and put together a more formal proposal that has wide backing. Parks & Recreation Commissioner Sally Campbell during the appointed body’s Nov. 13 meeting told New Canaan resident Liz Orteig that she should connect with locals who had won support three years ago to put bocce courts in at Mead Park. 

Campbell asserted that Irwin Park is deed-restricted—though officials noted that there are still areas there where bocce courts could go, see below—and questioned Orteig about applying to a local nonprofit origination for grant money for the project. “Before we entertain anything, I would like to see what your research has,” Campbell said at the meeting, held at Lapham Community Center. “Are they in other parks?

Rec Director Defends Tennis Programs at Mead Park

During a capital budget discussion that grew testy at times, the head of the New Canaan Recreation Department last week defended reinvigorated town-run tennis programs at Mead Park. Responding to one Parks & Recreation Commission member’s assertion that the clay courts at Mead continue to go largely under-used, Steve Benko said, “We are building our program.”

“If you want to kill my program, then kill it,” Benko told Commissioner Sally Campbell during the appointed body’s Nov. 13 meeting, held at Lapham Community Center. “But my program came back. My tennis grew by almost 60% from last year.”

The comments came as the Commission reviewed the Recreation and Parks Departments’ proposed spending plans for fiscal year 2021.

Officials: Town Looking To Use Special Equipment, Not Goats, To Rid Waveny Cornfields of Invasive Plant  

Though goats could work in the Waveny cornfields area to rid it of a plant that’s become overgrown there, the project would be about two years long and it’s not clear just how many of the animals would be needed, town officials say. The goats that this summer started eating up invasive plants at Irwin Park are working in an approximately half-acre space, but the area in Waveny’s southeastern corner is far larger at five acres, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. “The problem was that once we got rid of the phragmites, it left an area open,” Mann said during a Sept. 11 meeting of the Parks & Recreation Commission, referring to a highly invasive grass that had taken over the area previously. 

“Weeds are going to take over first and weeds tend to take over the clover,” he said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. “The clover seed that was placed out there just did not take off enough and the mugwort took over.”

The stalks and root systems of phragmites were removed from the cornfields as part of a nonprofit organization’s project, and the entire area then was regraded and roto-tilled.