Question #6: What are your thoughts on the Pop Up Park concept, generally and do you believe the town’s arrangements for the Park this summer struck the right balance for these varied interests in the town?
Friday, November 3rd, 2017 @ 10:35AM
Like many of the hot button issues in New Canaan, this one begs the adage, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.” So to me, that means let’s think of the greater good. This park should be a draw. It seems to be well utilized, and it gives both teens and seniors that live nearby a fun, convenient place to relax and socialize downtown. I have talked to town residents who feel it’s a nuisance because they forget it’s there, and end up turning around and retracing their steps to get where they want to go. However I cannot help but think this has to be (or should be) a draw for merchants downtown in an otherwise very quiet time of year; I realize some love it and some want it to go away and never come back.
Here’s what I would suggest: 1) let’s set a timeframe – Memorial Day to Labor Day – where the Park is up all the time. If this becomes an annual occurrence with a predictable presence, residents will get used to it and be less surprised by its occurrence. 2) To help out-of-towners using a GPS to navigate who are surprised stumbling upon it while trying to get to Elm Street, put up a detour sign so drivers know it’s there and can reroute accordingly. 3) We need to gather data from shop owners for the timeframe in question, so that we – and they – can determine the financial impact of the Park. This may be the hardest part, as they would have to make the effort to report. However if one wants to make the point that something popular should go away because it’s hurting business, one should be willing to gather the statistics to support that point. If after a couple of years of collecting hard data and comparing sales to years prior to the Park’s existence, the evidence shows that a majority of businesses are subsequently doing worse, the topic should be revisited. I believe the Town and the Chamber of Commerce have worked extremely hard to make the Park a success, and my understanding is that other area towns are envious of its appeal.
The Pop Up Park is a good concept. We are lucky to have a real downtown and not a strip along a road. What we don’t have is a central town green. The Pop Up Park has served some of the town green purposes while it’s installed. We had a successful rally of residents to support addiction awareness and prevention this summer in the Pop Up Park. I don’t get to see it in use during week days but in the evenings it was a gathering spot for adults and kids enjoying it in a sedate manner sitting and talking or playing games.
I know some merchants who are not in favor of the current location and understand their reasons. There are folks inconvenienced by the closing of the access from South Avenue to Elm Street. For myself, I try to avoid driving up Elm Street. The Police Commission meetings, where the permission to close the road for July and August is voted on, have had few to no opposition speakers. July and August are a particularly quiet time in town where those of us still around can enjoy a slightly slower pace. The positives for the Pop Up Park far outweigh the negatives for the time it is installed.