$50K in furniture approved for Darien's Weed Beach

Just when you thought the Weed Beach renovation project was complete, there’s about 50,000 more dollars ready to be spent to purchase furniture for one of Darien’s public beaches.

First Selectman Jayme Stevenson told the Board of Selectmen at its Jan. 14 meeting that furniture was left out of the budget because it was decided that fund-raising efforts would supply the money for chairs and tables, but donations have been slow coming.

Jim Coghlan, assistant director of the Parks & Recreation Department, said it’s mostly seating that is needed, along with some picnic tables, for the Weed Beach paddle building and the bath house.

“If you were down there this summer, as I was quite often,” Coghlan began, “you would see people sitting on the deck, whether it’s senior citizens or families having to sit on beach towels instead of having benches, picnic tables and other amenities to sit on.”

The $3 million project, which was completed last May, came in about $207,000 under budget, said Karl Kilduff, town administrator. Parks & Rec asked to use $52,430 of that leftover money to buy furniture.

“We’d like to use some of that money that’s being turned back to purchase some of these amenities,” Coghlan said.

The new paddle building is not being used as often as it was anticipated, Coghlan said, because there is no furniture in there. That was intended to raise some revenue through rentals.

“The feedback we’re getting is it’s great, but it seems like an open room,” he said.

Stevenson said she spoke with Liz Mao, Board of Finance chairman, once it was learned that fund-raising efforts for furniture were falling short. Both women said they supported using some of the leftover money from the project to buy some furniture, according to Stevenson.

Coglan said the current garbage cans “stand out like a sore thumb” because they’ve been there since the 1970s or 1980s. Stevenson added that the new garbage cans would take advantage of the town’s new single stream recycling program, which allows everything recyclable to be tossed into the same receptacle.

There are currently two picnic tables at the beach, and one near the junior sailing area, which is not sufficient, Stevenson said. A pavilion was cut out of the plan for “value engineering” purposes, Coghlan said.

“I agree this is something we ought to do,” said Selectman David Bayne, who served as the selectman’s representative on the Weed Beach Building Committee.

Selectmen approved the money transfer unanimously. The additional furniture for the warming hut includes two couches, two lamps, two tables, folding tables with a cart, folding chairs, and $2,300 for audio/visual equipment.

For the first aid rooms, selectmen approved a club settee and chair with navy cushions, a club coffee table, and end tables. For the site, there will be 12 Adirondack chairs, six benches with backs and two without backs, 10 picnic tables, three covered display cases, nine recycling bins and 10 trash bins.

Most outdoor furniture will be made of plastic.

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