Alisa, left, of New York, and Lola, of Stamford, both 8, lounge on Lisa Katzen’s 1976 sculpture “Priapos” at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park on a sunny day in Greenwich in May 2020. Improving the park and connecting it more to the downtown remains a major priority of First Selectman Fred Camillo and money is likely to be sought for it in the upcoming 2022-23 municipal budget.
Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, Conn., photographed on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. The town has plans to enhance and expand the downtown waterfront property at Greenwich Harbor. The first step in the plan is to demolish a Parks and Recreation work building to free up space for future projects.
The town has plans to to demolish this Parks and Recreation work building to free up space for future projects at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park as part of the enhancement and expantion plan along the waterfront at Greenwich Harbor.
Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, Conn., photographed on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. The town has plans to enhance and expand the downtown waterfront property at Greenwich Harbor. The first step in the plan is to demolish a Parks and Recreation work building to free up space for future projects.
Juno enjoys a treat as Neil Solomon, his dad Ray, center, and Selena Shen enjoy Soul’d Again performing motown favorites at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, Conn., on Wednesday July 7, 2021.
The LP’s perform during the Department of Parks and Recreation’s Wednesday Night Concert Series at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, Conn., on Wednesday August 4, 2021. The series continues with this lineup: Cynthia Sayer & Her Joyride Band will play jazz on Aug. 11: and Billy and the Showmen will perform R & B songs on Aug. 18. All concerts start at 7:15 p.m., and the rain date for each show is the next day. No pets and no grills allowed.
Photos from Adopt-a-Dog’s annual Puttin’ on the Dog fundraiser and adoption event at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, Conn. Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. The event featured music, pet-related vendors, demonstrations, competitions, and more fun activities for dogs and pet lovers.
GREENWICH — Plans to improve Roger Sherman Baldwin Park ended up on the chopping block during the 2021-22 municipal budget deliberations. But First Selectman Fred Camillo said that won’t stop him from trying again.
“Roger Sherman Baldwin Park is a great asset for the town, and it hasn’t been focused on enough over the years,” Camillo said in an interview this week. “There’s not many towns in America that have a beautiful waterfront park, and we’ve been parking trucks here since the 1950s. We have views that are being blocked.”
Now in his second term, Camillo has made improvement of the park a centerpiece of plans for the downtown. He said this week that he plans once again to request funding for design work on improvements to the park in his proposed 2022-23 budget,which will be unveiled on Jan. 25.
“We can provide views that haven’t been seen in 70 years because of the garages and we can add green space and remove impervious surfaces during a time of flooding,” he said. “It’s all to the good.”
Roger Sherman Baldwin Park is at Greenwich’s waterfront with Long Island Sound. It’s a favorite with walkers and is the heavily used site of the Greenwich Town Party, Putting On The Dog and the Concours d’Elegance car show.
But it also houses the town’s Parks and Recreation Department, a machine shop and storage area and parking for town vehicles, something Camillo said he wants to change as part of his improvements.
In the current year’s budget, Camillo had sought $1.25 million for continued design work to ready the park for improvements. The initial funding would have then been followed in a future budget year by $11.2 million in construction money, something Camillo said can be reduced through private donations. Removing the on-site building is a major part of the proposal.
But that plan ran into opposition before the Board of Estimate and Taxation’s Budget Committee and then was cut by the full BET in April. BET members said then they felt they did not have enough information about the project, including the full cost, how it connects to other downtown improvements and what would be done with the Parks and Recreation building.
Linking Greenwich Avenue, the Bruce Museum and other parts of the downtown to the waterfront is something Camillo had pitched for years, saying improving the park would add greenery, enhance sight lines and make it more user friendly.
“This is on the waterfront and for 70 years we’ve been parking (town) trucks there,” Camillo said to the BET last year. “This is arguably the most expensive real estate in town.”
To be able to get the improvements, though, the project needed the approval of both the BET and the Representative Town Meeting. The funding denial put the park’s improvements off the year’s list of priorities.
At the time, Camillo said he was disappointed with the BET’s cut and that it was “not the right move” because the project was something the community wanted.
Camillo said he hoped reintroducing the park upgrades would have a better chance in upcoming budget talks. His proposed municipal budget will be the subject of hearings before the BET Budget Committee starting Feb. 1.
“If you look back at the statements that were made at the time, people on the BET were saying they really loved it, just not then and they wanted to see it get brought back,” Camillo said.
Other things have changed in the past year, he said. The Island Beach parking lot, which is across from the park, needed its own improvements, and the town is now in the process of getting in bids for that project.
“Last year we hadn’t put out the (request for proposal) for the Island Beach parking lot and we’ve done that now. And we’ve incorporated that RFP with some private money for that park to lessen the burden on the taxpayers so the BET would have a little bit more comfort approving it,” he said.
In addition to any money brought in through the parking lot bids, Camillo said there would be opportunities for naming rights at the park.
In October, Camillo announced a deal with the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation for $5 million for the new Eastern Greenwich Civic Center, which includes naming rights for the Cohens. Camillo said the same could be available for improvements to Roger Sherman Baldwin.
“We are confident that the ultimate price tag (for the park improvements) will not be what we’re asking for in the appropriation,” Camillo said.
For BET Chair Karen Fassuliotis, approving allocations is a matter of setting priorities. The BET was not opposed to the Roger Sherman Baldwin project when it refused to allocate the money this past year, she said, but it was one of many capital projects the board had before it and when it is proposed again, she expects the BET will have a lot of questions.
“We will want to see what his concept is and what his plans are,” Fassuliotis said about the upcoming budget hearings, which will begin after Camillo’s budget presentation.
Budget Committee Chair Leslie Tarkington agreed with Camillo that having the Parks and Recreation building at the park is “not the highest and best use of central Greenwich waterfront access.”
Tarkington said a question that will have to be answered is where the services offered in that building will be moved and how much it would cost.
Fassuliotis said she hoped that the project would be done similarly to the new civic center, which solicited lots of public input and made revisions based on what was heard before a plan was approved.
“We want plenty of public feedback on whatever he presents,” Fassuliotis said. “We want the plan to reflect what the public feels.”
kborsuk@greenwichtime.com
Ken Borsuk has been a reporter for Greenwich Time since 2015 but has been covering Greenwich news since 2000. He has extensively covered local government including the Board of Selectmen, Board of Estimate Taxation and Representative Town Meeting.

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