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'Cracked Courts, Blown-Out Fences Must Be Fixed'

The Recreation Department lists fixes to the tennis courts at the high school and Mead Park as its top capital priorities.

The town spent about $70,000 two years ago to seal the cracks in the tennis courts at New Canaan High School, which are used by all the high school teams and the general public, but Recreation Director Steve Benko says without a more permanent fix the courts are going to become a serious liability. 

"We can't keep doing nickel and dime patchwork," he added," he said. "[We] got through another season last year and now the cracks have opened up. We don't want some kid tripping on a crack and getting injured." 

So Benko wants to spend $170,000 to redo the high school courts with the same premier surface that was applied to the Mead Park tennis courts five years ago, which has a waterproof membrane that will help the courts stand up to winter weather. He wants to spend another $70,000 to replace the fencing around the courts, which has been bent out of shape by the wind. 

"It's like a big sail," Benko said. 

The Recreation Department's No. 2 priority is to replace the fencing around the Mead Park courts—a project sparked by a group of residents who this summer brought forth a proposal for a public-private partnership. The department would combine the $25,000 in requested town funds with money raised by the Friends of Mead Park Tennis to re-fence at least two of the courts in time for next season. 

In what would be another noticeable improvement, Benko wants $12,000 to upgrade the lighting controls for the Mead Park baseball fields to an automated system. All of the other fields in town are already equipped with the MUSCO control-link system that allows the on and off times to be pre-set and managed remotely.  

Up till now, coaches have been known to turn the lights on at the baseball fields earlier than necessary and forget to turn them off after games. 

"At Mead Park, there are 100 baseball coaches with a key," Benko said of the current system. "[I] go down there and all of the lights are on, burning for no reason."

Benko said the upgrade would pay for itself in five to six years through reduced energy costs. 

Other big ticket items include:

  • $12,500 to be combined with last year's unused $15,000 allocation to purchase a new vehicle for ferrying snow-blowers and other equipment;
  • a $10,000 beach cleaner for picking twigs and other debris from the sand at Kiwanis Park instead of having to replace it;
  • $40,000 to continue repairs to the masonry at the Carriage Barn and $6,000 to fix the walk;
  • $10,000 for another year of painting at Waveny House;
  • and $7,500 for fencing around the Waveny athletic fields. 

The grand total: $363,000—more than five times the $64,000 approved  last year. Beyond school improvements and road projects that will be bonded, that figure makes the recreation line the biggest in the town's proposed capital budget.

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