ARPA set to fund Oyster Shell Park fence improvement

Superintendent of Parks and Public Property Ken Hughes uses his mouse to highlight Oyster Shell Park fence pickets, at left. They can’t be individually replaced because the fasteners are hidden, he said.

NORWALK, Conn. — An Oyster Shell Park fence, said to look “horrible,” is set for an upgrade via a federally-funded construction project.

“It’s somewhat of a safety issue, but it’s also an aesthetic issue with the park. It just doesn’t look good,” Norwalk Recreation and Parks Director Robert Stowers said to Common Council members Tuesday.

“This is the fence that runs along the water from the lookout pavilions on the east side of Oyster Shell running all the way down to the Maritime Center, also including two other fishing pavilions, fishing piers, along the way,” Superintendent of Parks and Public Property Ken Hughes said. “It’s a wooden fence. We’ve been replacing with plywood throughout the years. It does, as Mr. Stowers said, look horrible.”

The Council vote to approve the $253,000 contract with Giacorp was unanimous. American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds will be used to pay the bill.

On Feb. 8, Hughes told the Recreation and Parks Committee that the 1,000-foot-long fence has been “the bane of my existence for the last six or seven years.” It’s “poorly designed” as there’s no way to get to the hardware fastening the pickets to the rails. If someone kicks in one of the pickets, sharp metal screws are exposed and the only thing to do is cover the works with plywood. Which then attracts graffiti.

Part of the problem with the existing fence is that the top handrails and posts are made from tropical hardwood and it’s impossible to remove the screws, which stick up dangerously when a picket is removed, Hughes said. The pickets and mid-rails are pressure treated and the budget includes waterproofing once the project is done.

Two years ago, a City employee devised a “much better” system on one of the pavilions that provides the ability to replace individual pickets, Hughes said.

“I see this lasting 20-25 years,” Hughes said. The water doesn’t sit on the vertical pickets and the tropical wood is “almost like concrete” and the railings are on a slight angle, so the water runs off.


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Superintendent of Parks and Public Property Ken Hughes explains the design of an Oyster Shell Park fence, during a Feb. 8 virtual Recreations and Parks Committee meeting.

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