Lake Mohegan not so family friendly

To the Editor:

Recently our family had the unfortunate experience of some not-so-friendly and discriminatory behavior at Lake Mohegan. The experience has left us disgusted, frustrated, and very disappointed.

On Wednesday, July 21, our beloved nanny took the kids to Lake Mohegan for my daughter's swim lesson. I am a working mom, a local business owner and I could not survive without the help of Tasha (our nanny). She is a part of our family, and we love her.

So, Tasha went to the lake that morning and was told she couldn't go in to simply drop off our daughter for the lesson because she was not family nor was she on our family's lake pass. We were stunned to hear this! This has never happened before in the four years that we have been living here and going to the lake. She was told to wait at the gate entrance with my 21-month-old son until a police officer arrived, because apparently the gate attendant felt some crime had just occurred.

Now she had to watch my 4-year-old daughter from a distance as her lesson started, and try to occupy my toddler in the parking lot while waiting for the cops, who were supposed to arrive and reprimand her. Not only was it a humiliating experience for her, but it was downright wrong for the attendant to keep her waiting with my son at the gate while my 4-year-old is unattended by an adult. What is the lake's priority here: the safety of our children or revenue?

Since I have paid for a family lake pass and then again paid for a summer swim class, I expect a little common courtesy that, during a one-hour swim lesson, my child can be accompanied by an adult childcare provider! Is that too much to ask?

What infuriates me the most is that other babysitters were let through the gate with their children and "flashed their passes" as Tasha stood there witnessing this. These sitters were white and could "pass" as the mom for these kids. My nanny is black and does not look like my children. Is this why she was stopped? Does this mean that now everyone will be ID'd? Will adoptive mothers now need to show proof of identification if their children don't look like them or have a different skin color? Will grandparents need to show proof of ID if they are using a family pass, thus getting turned away as well? How many 18 year olds still live at home while attending college here and use their family's pass, and are they turned away too because they are now over the age limit for the family pass? Why was my nanny singled out? Was it her skin color? Were the attendants just cracking down extra hard that day? Is the Fairfield Parks and Recreation Commission that desperate for revenue?

I may never know, but I would like to see some consistency in their enforcing of the so-called rules. I understand that the Fairfield Parks and Recreaction Commission wants to make money and charge a fee for guests entering the lake, but let's get real here! If childcare providers cannot access the lake for a one-hour lesson then am I to assume that swim lessons are for stay-at-home parents and their children only? That doesn't seem right, and totally discriminates upon the working parent.

Right now, mothers are going back to work on a daily basis because of a husband's layoff, fear of downsizing, tighter household budgets, the recent drop in the value of our homes and retirement savings, etc. So who is coming to the rescue but our kids' grandparents, and college-aged babysitters, nannies and friends, all in the effort to help our families survive this economy.

We moved here because this was a town that provided a sense of community, thriving businesses and incredible schools, along with its great beaches and outdoor open spaces. We also moved here because we are hard working individuals who were priced out of other neighboring towns. We want simple things. We want safety and quality education for our children. We want to be able to park at our train stations for god's sake (we're still waiting for a pass after 4 years). We want a grandparent or childcare provider to be able to escort and supervise our young children at the lake without having to pay for multiple passes. (Have you seen how the Beardsley Zoo handles this with their membership? Take note Fairfield Parks and Recreation Commission; it isn't that hard.)

Paying for the lake pass isn't the issue, over-paying for multiple passes is. If you are concerned with revenue, then be concerned when all of us working moms now have to send our kids with their sitters to the beach or zoo or aquarium instead.

Paying for a $30 resident family lake pass, plus a $60 non-resident pass for my kids' grandmother who helps out, plus a $30 or $60 adult pass for a babysitter seems a bit steep for Fairfield's hard-working taxpayers when our guests will be going on occasion and not daily. Purchasing these extra passes was the only recommendation I received when I asked how my childcare providers could escort my child for swim lessons and on my behalf into Lake Mohegan.

I sincerely hope that the Fairfield Parks and Recreation Commission will consider revising its current fee structure and "Family Pass" for two adult parents and their dependent children (up to age 17) living at the same address. This is outdated and could certainly use some improvement.

And, by the way, the police never showed up and were never even called by the attendant. By making this threat, Tasha was made to feel as if she was held captive until the officers showed.

Finally, the swim lesson ended and Tasha came home with the kids very distraught over the whole situation. I want an apology for Tasha, and I want to see some positive changes at Lake Mohegan before I have to pay more money to go there. I encourage all Fairfield residents and working moms to join me in contacting the Fairfield Parks and Recreation Commission and to ask for a fair and revised "Family Pass" for 2011 and beyond by e-mailing Gerry Lombardo, director of parks and recreation, at glombardo@town.fairfield.ct.us.

Sarah Lehberger

Fairfield

Stratfield village

needs attention

To the Editor:

The area of Stratfield in Fairfield is a mess.

Our first selectman, Ken Flatto, made a pledge not to let a national chain in the old Stratfield Market. He said he would do "everything in my power to keep it out." He did.

Now, after four years, Stratfield has a large, old, ugly, rundown empty box sitting there with boarded-up windows. Across the street is a rundown gas station with a fleet of old cars in the lot. Across the other street is an outdated, disgusting, rundown strip mall.

Anything new in the old site of the empty box would have been a huge improvement, with at least 30 people employed for the last four years. All we have from Flatto is anti-business, unemployment, and a rundown intersection in Stratfield.

Len Theis

Fairfield

Hit and run raises concern

To the Editor:

On July 19, between 9 and 9:15 p.m., as my car was stopped at the corner of Sturges and Old Mill Roads, three cars turned into Old Mill. One of them hit my car and all three continued up Old Mill. As I got out of the car to inspect the damage, I noticed that one of the three cars had stopped, but as I yelled at it, the car took off. I drove up Old Mill and into town to the police station, where I made a report.

As I waited at the stop sign at the corner of Sturges and Unquowa Roads, I noticed these cars, headlights on, stopped on Sturges about a block away to my left, apparently waiting for me to make the turn even though they had the right of way. As soon as I stopped at Sturges and Old Mill, the cars continued down Sturges and turned into Old Mill, where one of them hit me. Whether intentional or not, a hit-and-run is a serious offense, and anyone who noticed anything that night, especially a description of the cars or their plates, is ethically obligated to relay that information to the police.

As I returned home, I noticed a swarm of teen drivers all over the neighborhood. The police should have had a car or two in that area doing some investigating. Does anyone know where these kids are and what they're doing? Or care? Given the terrifyingly reckless driving behavior all over town, maybe not -- until it's your kid, or your car.

Mary Galgota

Fairfield