LETTER: Park Playdates For All

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor:

Hats off to Selectman Peter Tesei’s recent victory as our fifth term leader. Incumbents often have a bad rap, as if they just sit on their laurels, taking up space in wood-paneled offices that have been re-remodeled one-to- many-times, never reachable because they are booked for power lunches with cronies. Not so with Tesei. Mr. Tesei hits the streets of Greenwich with an eye towards bringing our town into the status of being a great Walking Town, and this visionary goal will surely be part of his great legacy.

Peter Tesei’s vision of Greenwich, as a beautiful, diverse, community-minded oasis of pro-business and pro-family people raising their children to be the best future citizens of the State of Connecticut is one that we have not only bought into, but that we can physically enjoy every day in what are becoming the best “urban parks” in the North East.

Today, I would like to take the time to thank Mr. Tesei and Mr. Joseph Siciliano for their unwavering commitment and extraordinary vision to beautify and transform Greenwich’s urban, pocket and land-grant parks into places that are offering deep community connection and interior rejuvenation unlike any institution (besides one’s place of worship) in Town!

If you have not visited the newly redesigned Greenwich Commons, a park that looks like a romantic courtyard in Paris at nightfall, please go there today! To me, this park encapsulates the Tesei vision of Greenwich as a gorgeous, communal, welcoming and diverse community that supports active children, busy parents, happy seniors and committed dog owners. Have you seen this park’s black-metal “Gas Light District” looking lamps glowing at 5 AM? One can actually run the track on Havermeyer field at 5 AM under a Parisian glow, then run for espresso shot at Starbucks afterwards, then visit the gallery at the Greenwich Art Council and chat with lively seniors before heading back to work.

The newly installed pavers, oak-colored, picnic times, timeless lawn all twinkling under the glow of the black lamp posts, has linked Town Hall to the excitement and “community” engagement moments of our Starbucks hub that entertains retirees, post-partum moms, newly independent tweens, freelancers, small business start-ups, coffee dates–with equal pizazz–at this “hot spot” on the Ave…

Mr. Joseph Siciliano has been given the green light to do great things with Greenwich’s Parks and he has done it! In five short years, I have seen Greenwich’s Parks become places of true joy, spontaneous meeting places that delight our children and de-stress us-adults who are pulled in too any directions, opening the opportunity for connection and neighborly moments that we all hunger for. Parks feed our need for not “bowling alone.”

Children and citizens thrive when they can be outdoors in parks, Starbucks in hand, watching their kids and neighbors’ kids play soccer as they stroll through the fabulous Greenwich Commons or meet-up with other families on a Sunday evening at 4 PM to joke and chat at the amazing and new Cos Cob Park. Who needs the numbness of social media when you have live conversation and caring fun with neighbors at Glenville Park?

When you have leaders who inspire others to take the reins and give their all — like Tesai has done for our Parks Department, you get a cascade of leaders that can truly make a community beautiful.

Parks are the outdoor cathedrals of our society. They bring us together. They keep our minds and bodies healthy and inspire us to reach beyond our limited world-view. My own children spend no less than five hours a day in Greenwich’s parks! Unplug your teens, unschedule your little ones and come and join us. I promise you, our wonderful selectman and his Chief of Parks and Recreation have you on their radar.

I envision that Mr. Tesei and Mr. Siciliano’s future terms will bring even more amazing green spaces to Greenwich and hope that they look at the Hamilton Avenue neighborhood as a canvass begging to be transformed, a place they can work their magic, reseeding this schools playground and ball field — perhaps — making this neighborhood an ethnic food walking mecca or (another cool idea) that will attract town-wide sports games and all Greenwichites to come and enjoy their neighbors. I applaud St. Roch’s Church for already doing this with their annual carnival and hope with more green-spaces in Chickahominy, yet another walking neighborhood transformation can take place in Greenwich. I envision a “grand-map” that can be published by the Parks and Recreation and given out to all of Greenwich’s students, detailing all the happenings and special features that each park has to offer. Even the cool construction vehicles in the sandbox at Glenville Park! Details like this make our community a great place to raise kids. Greenwich can be an amazing walking town, a place where nature deficit disorder has been defeated, a place where you meet good new friends during spontaneous “park playdates” for kids and adults alike.

Come, let us go to the park, together.

Jodi Weisz

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