‘Party in the Park’ to support Stratfield Village improvements

Brian Kinsely and his daughter, Eleanor, enjoying the festivities at the 2018 SVA Party in the Park.

Brian Kinsely and his daughter, Eleanor, enjoying the festivities at the 2018 SVA Party in the Park.

Debra Kelly / Contributed photo

FAIRFIELD — When Dylan and Kate O’Connor, born and raised in Fairfield, purchased their home in the historic Stratfield neighborhood 7 years ago, they were excited to move to a quiet street within walking distance of Stratfield Elementary School and the Four Corners, the neighborhood’s small, but quaint, commercial center. However, once their children started school, they learned that crossing the intersection at Stratfield Road (Route 59) and Fairfield Woods Road to get to school was no easy feat.

“Sections of the sidewalks are in poor condition,” said Dylan, “and the intersection is too wide and designed such that it’s difficult for pedestrians and cyclists to cross safely. Furthermore, the road design does little to encourage drivers to obey traffic laws. Sometimes I walk to the Four Corners just to observe cars speeding through red lights, or failing to yield to oncoming traffic, narrowly avoiding accidents.”

In addition to traffic safety concerns, Dylan and many other Stratfield residents were tired of passing by the long-vacant Stratfield Market at 1280 Stratfield Road, a cornerstone building of the Four Corners.

Fed up with safety issues and the vacant market, Dylan and his friend and neighbor, James McCusker, decided to act. In 2016, they established the Stratfield Village Association (SVA), a nonprofit organization, to facilitate community inclusiveness, sustainability, awareness, investment, and involvement to promote a safe, vibrant neighborhood.

The SVA is not directly involved with the vacant Stratfield Market building, but they have been in close contact with the owner, providing them with community input as they pursued a tenant. Earlier this year, it was announced that the Goddard School, a private preschool, leased the building. Goddard School is currently renovating the building and plans to open for business soon.

“We’re thrilled that the Goddard School is breathing new life into the market building,” James McCusker said. “Having a vibrant business operating out of a beautifully renovated space is going to be a huge improvement.”

The most high-profile SVA initiative is the Four Corners Beautification Project, aimed at improving the Stratfield Road-Fairfield Woods Road intersection by making it more physically attractive and safer for pedestrians and cyclists. The SVA received a $650,000 grant from the State of Connecticut in support of the project, but it’s up to the SVA and the community to raise the remaining $250,000 needed to complete the project.

To help close the gap, the group is hosting its second annual Party in the Park on Sept. 21 from 3 to 7 p.m. at Owen Fish Park, 100 percent of the proceeds from which supports the Four Corners Project. Lead sponsors for the 2019 Party in the Park is Sunrise of Fairfield, a newly-constructed senior living facility adjacent to Owen Fish Park and Hines Interests Limited Partnership. The event will include live music by renowned local band the Alpaca Gnomes, food trucks, water slides, games, a home run derby, and more.

“We’re thrilled to once again be hosting the Party in the Park,” said Dylan. “Our community has been longing for a safer and more attractive Four Corners for years — what better way to come together as neighbors to make that happen than through a fundraising celebration in our beautiful neighborhood park?”

SVA Party in the Park tickets are $40 per adult in advance, $45 per adult day of event, children are admitted free. Tickets are available online at StratfieldVillageAssociation.org. For interviews and additional information, contact Dylan O’Connor, SVA co-president, at rdylanoconnor@gmail.com or 203-613-1526.