NEW FAIRFIELD – New Fairfield’s public beach and nearby marina have been restored to their pre-storm status, so beachgoers, boaters, and others can now look forward to an eventful summer at the town’s popular lakefront.
On Friday, June 15, the beach at the Town Park, located at 180 Conn. Rt. 39, was fully cleared of tree debris, a significant amount of which had been blocking access to the marina. The dead foliage was fallout from the powerful storm which lashed Connecticut and much of the Northeast last month.
The marina, next to the beach off Rt. 39, was restored after extensive repairs were made to a number of its docks and their anchors. The damage sustained by the marina, which saw six five thousand-pound, dock-tethering anchor blocks repositioned or damaged, eight of the chains which tether the docks to the anchors broken, one dock knocked out of place, and others split in half, was also a consequence of May 15’s unprecedented barrage of bad weather.
“Everybody was affected,” said Linda Lull, the director of recreation for New Fairfield’s Parks and Recreation Commission.
Lull noted that the process of clearing the area of debris and making repairs to the marina took a significant amount of time, around several weeks, the wait only made longer by the fact that many towns in the surrounding region were, in the aftermath of the storm, dealing with problems of their own.
“We called around to different [area] marinas to see if they had a crane boat,” said Lull, highlighting the need for a crane vessel to move the exceedingly heavy anchor blocks. “Normally we get in touch with Brookfield,” she said, mentioning that that town can, in the event it is needed, usually provide New Fairfield with a crane boat. “But [at the time] they were swamped with demands.”
The Parks and Recreation Department called on two companies for help: C & D Underwater Maintenance, a New Milford-based water damage restoration service, and Atlantic Marine Construction, a marine construction and repair company out of Westerly, Rhode Island. C & D, which Parks and Rec has previously employed for milfoil removal in the New Fairfield portion of Candlewood Lake, sent divers into the water off the marina to assess damages to the infrastructure there. Atlantic Marine then came in with a crane vessel and brought in an underwater welder to repair the damage.
In total, 15 boat slips and nine jet ski slips were fully restored, and the marina is once again open to boaters, water sport enthusiasts, and all-around lake-lovers.
“We’re happy it’s open again,” said Lull, who, during her eight years working with the town’s Parks and Rec, has overseen the beach, marina, and camps and events put on by the department.
The Town Park’s beach is now equally inviting, especially with all the warm weather ahead of us. Despite the fact that, in the aftermath of the mid-May storm, New Fairfield’s Public Works Department had their hands full removing fallen trees from the town’s roads, the beach saw a relatively quick recovery.
And with the Town Park’s beach reopened, Parks and Rec is slated to offer a fuller list of the numerous activities and programs they usually hold over the summer months.
These include popular, annually-recurring summer camps for kids and teens.
One such program is the long-standing Pardalis Basketball Camp. Offered by Parks and Rec for “many, many years,” according to Lull, the camp is run by New Fairfield teachers Joe Pardalis and Matt Schlosser, and was founded by Pardalis’ father years ago.
Also popular are soccer and multi-sport camps, also run by Schlosser; a tennis camp, headed for a number of years by New Fairfield High School tennis coach Ryan Pilner; and a co-educational gymnastics camp, lead by New Fairfield residents and New York state educators Jeff Alviti and Tom Peterson.
A four-week children’s day camp beginning July 2 and run by New Fairfield resident Kevin Courtney will be held each day from 8:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. The day camp is typically run out of the town’s middle school and high school and features a weekly field trip.
And completely new for this year is a forensic science camp, directed by Rob Flynn. For educational purposes, a local law enforcement squad will bring a work van, a mobile crime scene investigation vehicle, to the camp.
The Blue Raiders swim team, a kids’ swim group spearheaded by New Fairfield’s waterfront director Jill Cook, will meet at the Town Park’s beach.
One adult-inclusive summer program is a lake kayaking and paddle-boarding event set for July 21, free to New Fairfield residents, being held from 10 a.m.–1 p.m. at the Town Park beach.
Parks and Rec is offering a number of other events and programs, including adult-inclusive programs, this summer. You can learn more about them by visiting their online page, newfairfield.org/municipal-departments/services/parks-and-recreation, at the town of New Fairfield’s official website, newfairfield.org. There, they provide PDFs including a 2018 summer program brochure, a summer day camp calendar, and application forms for preschool and other children’s summer camps.
Lastly, Lull wants to personally thank a number of individuals and organizations for their hard work and continued support of Parks and Rec’s activities.
She would like to mention her appreciation for the office staff at New Fairfield’s Parks and Rec Commission for their hard work “behind the scenes” getting things back up to speed at the town marina.
“With the whole process of getting the marina repaired, it was a bit of an ordeal for office staff here to notify boaters to move their boats into different slots in order to get repairs done,” she said. “The office staff here was really great in contacting to boaters to get their boats moved.”
“Our department would also like to thank our [town’s] first selectman, Pat DelMonaco, along with New Fairfield’s Public Works Department, for all of her support throughout the process of getting Parks and Rec areas up and running again after the storm,” she wrote in an e-mail correspondence.
Lull also wants to thank local businesspeople, members of the New Fairfield chapter of the Lion’s Club, members of the New Fairfield Fire Police, and local Savings Bank of Danbury employees for their volunteer work making many of Parks and Rec’s events, summer or year-round, come to life.
Members of the Lion’s Club, she mentioned, have provided help with a number of events, and along with businesspeople throughout New Fairfield and Savings Bank employees provide volunteer actors for the town’s annual Haunting at the Hallow, a Halloween event and “haunted attraction” held for six days in October at the Great Hollow Nature Preserve.
Savings Bank employees also provide help with the annual Thanksgiving-themed Run for the Turkeys 5K Road Race.
She also noted that, while Parks and Rec staff are paid, some of the events the department offers are free, and the department ultimately depends on money brought in from program fees.
“A lot of people aren’t aware that we’re self-sustaining,” she said. She also assured the public that, “All of the money brought in from the programs,” which can be attended for a fee, “goes right back out to maintenance, repair, upkeep, and improvements” for the areas and operations the Parks and Rec Commission oversees.
By Ryan V. Stewart