An outdoor pool at Cherry Lawn Park? Replacing two ball fields in front of Town Hall with an indoor pool and plenty of parking? Paddleboard courts at the Edgerton property?
Those were some of the dozens of ideas consultants briefly outlined in a draft Darien parks master plan proposing big or small changes for each of the town’s parks and some other properties, including the town’s Edgerton and Ox Ridge tracts.
The individual ideas for draft (not yet written) were described for about a half hour on Wednesday night, just before the first of two public hearings before the Parks and Recreation Commission. The next one is scheduled for Oct. 4.
The consultants — Daniel Biggs, team leader for Weston & Sampson, and Art Thatcher, principal-in-charge for GreenPlay LLC — said they were looking for feedback from the public in this and an upcoming public hearing, and they could change the proposals based on that and on ideas from the commission.
- Editor’s note: This article summarizes part of the presentation (concentrating on only some of the many proposals) and some of the reactions to it at the public hearing. Other parts of the presentation, including suggestions for both town beaches and other parks, will be covered soon in a future article or articles.
No information about costs have been developed by the consultants yet, but they said that’s coming at a later date. When it comes, the costs are likely to be in ranges, showing estimated minimum or maximum prices. The ideas themselves, described as “concepts” were given in very brief outlines by Biggs. Changes for some small parks were described only for about 30 seconds by Biggs.
A large proportion of the speakers in the public hearing were neighbors of Ox Ridge Hunt Club, who appear to be well-organized. Multiple supporters of the Darien Junior Sailing Team, a nonprofit organization that operates from Weed Beach Park, also spoke at the hearing.
For nearly every park, the consultants suggested improving access, sometimes with more parking along with ideas to make it easier to walk there. They suggested walking trails for several parks, often along the circumferences. For several parks, the consultants gave alternative ideas in “Option A” and “Option B” plans.
“Trails is one trend you’ll see in a lot of these plans to encourage access, encourage use within the park beyond the diamond or rectangular field use at these facilities,” Biggs said.
A plateau-like part of the parcel would take advange of the flat land to put in several paddle ball courts and a paddle ball hut, with parking around it for about 75 vehicles, Biggs said.
“We looked at all the possible locations within the town […] that were possible for adding a pool facility,” Biggs said.
The consultants suggested three options for town pool facilities: An outdoor pool and “splash pool” (shallow and for young children) at either Weed Beach Park or Cherry Lawn Park (with additional parking nearby at each location) or an indoor pool with plenty of parking where two baseball/softball fields are now located off of Renshaw Road, between Town Hall and the Post Road.
For each location, the pools were included in one of the two options for the park.
The indoor pool off of Renshaw Road would be in a 2,300-square-foot structure located at about the point where the two current fields meet. A parking lot would be located on the end of the property closest to the Post Road. The map rendering of the idea showed a parking lot that looked a lot like the present baseball field.
When a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission asked whether anything would be done to replace the two ball fields that would be demolished to make way for the pool and new parking lot, Biggs said there were no plans for that.
Flynn, the commission chairman, then said:
“We did have quite a number of conversations with the youth sports leagues, and it was indicated to us that it’s possible that we might not need those [two ball fields]. So it’s something that we could look into.”
Biggs then added, “We heard that they could be accommodated in different locations […]”
Cherry Lawn Park
The Cherry Lawn Park Option B would have an outdoor pool, splash pad for young children and a “Pool & Recreation Center” building of about 2,600 square feet in the south-central part of the park. additional parking would be built just to the west (south of the present parking area). The pond can be seen to the right.
At Weed Beach, the pool facilities would be similar to those proposed at Cherry Lawn Park, with 82 spaces of additional parking nearby.
One person got up to speak specifically about the swimming pool proposals: Laurie Orman.
“I have lived in this town for 25 years, andI have been working on trying to find a location for an indoor pool for 22 of the 25 years,” she said. “This town definitely needs another indoor pool.”
Ox Ridge Property
The proposals for the Ox Ridge property follow restrictions the town agreed to when it bought the property from the Ox Ridge Hunt Club, Biggs said.
Under Option A, a parking lot with 60 spaces (called “stalls” by the consultants) would be located near the northeast corner of the parcel (along with the same overflow lot, perhaps with gravel rather than pavement, would be just south of it, with about 30 spaces). A “bioretention field” for drainage from the parking lot would be near the northeast corner, and two new fields (one seemingly 150 by 240 feet, another 300 by 240 feet) could handle about 300 more cars.
Option B would include more parking areas than in Option A, with another parking area along the north side of the tract, close to the northwest corner. Trees would be planted around the entire perimeter and a third field, 300 by 240 feet, is shown in the proposal.
In this proposal, there would be a “comfort station” that essentially would be restrooms, and one not to exceed 1,000 square feet, as the town agreed when it bought the property. (A 1,000-square-foot structure could have dimensions, as an example not stated in the presentation, of 40 feet by 25 feet.)
A walking path around the perimeter of the property would be added, as well.