Pop-up park to stay up
Updated 11:18 am, Thursday, May 28, 2015
On the condition firmer details are given about maintenance and how the park will be run, officials gave the go ahead last week for the Pop Up Park at South Avenue and Elm Street to operate through the summer.
The approval is contingent on several conditions, including the appointment of a chairman of the park's organizing committee, a firm commitment from the town's Department of Public Works to empty trash receptacles, and clarifying how the park is insured, Sawabini said.
Sawabini said the commission also wants to understand the extent to which commercial activity in the park such as food or merchandise sales might take place as part of an overall business plan.
"We've always been very supportive of the park and it has been up and running for three years now," Sawabini said. "They probably have all the answers in their head. It is appropriate they write it down and present it as their business plan."
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The Pop Up Park was started by a volunteer committee three years ago and this spring the group sought to keep the park in place continually to eliminate the volunteer labor of setting it up and breaking it down each Sunday night, organizers said.
Betsy Wilson, a Realtor with Betsy Cleary's Realty Guild and a Pop Up Park Committee member, said closing the end of South Avenue to vehicle traffic during the summer months encourages residents to walk or ride bicycles downtown.
"I do think it encourages pedestrians and bicyclists," Wilson said. "One of the main concerns in the past was people weren't sure when it was in operation and when it wasn't and would drive all the way down South Avenue. Hopefuly this will eliminate some of the confusion."
As of late May, there were at least 25 community organizations interested in either staging events or sponsoring the park's operations, Wilson said. Greater involvement from nearby businesses who value the park as a location that draws patrons from both within and outside the town should make the park more sustainable, she said.
"We have to work out over time what the best solution is for Pop Up Park, which could be a combination of public and private participation," Wilson said.
While most people move to New Canaan for schools and a manageable commute, Wilson said the Pop Up Park emphasizes the importance of the downtown village as an attractive aspect of living in town.
"We have the quintessential kind of village and are one of the only towns that doesn't have the Post Road or I-95 running through it," Wilson said. "It is one of the reasons residents come here and stay here."