Sears ParkSears Park, Pavilion and Performing Arts Gazebo
East Hampton CT
Sears Park is the Town of East Hampton’s only municipal park and allows access to East Hampton Residents. Situated on Lake Pocotopaug the park was donated to the Town in 1910 by the Sears family. Between 1995 and 2005 the Town acquired the three adjacent properties to the north, expanding the park to approximately 3 acres. The Park is located at 68 North Main Street in East Hampton, CT
Rules and Regulations
Vehicle stickers must be adhered to the inside, on the driver’s side windshield. Boats and watercraft stickers must be placed on the right (starboard) side of the boat. Sears Park stickers are not transferrable. Children under the age of 13 must be supervised by an adult. Please obey the 10 mph speed limit. Alcoholic beverages are not permitted in the park at any time 3 strikes and you are out rule: Anyone asked to leave Sears Park by park personnel because of inappropriate behavior or language or for breaking park rules, will receive a strike. If this occurs on 3 occasions will be permanently barred from the confines of Sears Park. Swimming is permitted in designated areas only. No swimming permitted in the boat launch area. Flotation devices of any kind are prohibited. This includes arm bands, rafts, and floats. Fishing is not allowed in the swim area. Please park in an orderly fashion to accommodate other vehicles and boat trailers. Owners are responsible for clean up of waste from their pets. All pets must be leashed and are not allowed on the beach or in the water. Sears Park is a residents only park.
Residents of East Hampton can pick up their Sears Park stickers at the Parks and Recreation Department, the East Hampton Public Library, and the East Hampton Police Department during regular business hours. Vehicle stickers are also available online through the town website, online stickers will be mailed daily and a $1 handling fee will be charged, you should receive them within 5 business days. The stickers will be available beginning on April 6, 2015. Bring your vehicle and boat registrations with you to get a sticker. Eligibility criteria is available on the Town’s Website Park attendants will be on duty in mid-May; Sears Park will then be open at 7:00AM and close at 8:30PM.
East Hampton residents can rent the Sears Park Pavilion for Special Events for full or half-day rentals. The fees are $75/half-day or $125/full day. All reservations require a security deposit of $125.
LION’S PICNIC SHELTER:
Sears Park patrons may use this shelter when it is not reserved. Reservations are posted daily on the small kiosk next to the shelter with the specific reservations for that day. There is no cost to reserve the shelter; however, a completed reservation form is required.
William O’Neill Performing Arts Gazebo
The William O’Neill Performing Arts Gazebo located at Sears Park in East Hampton can be used for small family oriented performances and programs such as small musical performances, magic shows, plays, variety groups, etc. Music concerts are restricted to acoustic, instrumental or small jazz venues. Weddings and other special celebrations will be considered. Venues are lawn seating. The gazebo will not be used for loud bands and or concerts. The fees are $75 per day and a $25 additional fee is added on if electrical or stage lighting is required. All reservations also require a $125 security deposit.
Through the Years
Nestled on the westerly shore of Lake Pocotopaug is our beautiful Sears Park. In the summer of 1909 Sears family members, Dr. Cushman A. Sears, Mrs. Mary S. Gillette and Miss Carolyn “Carrie” D. Sears, approached the Selectmen offering to gift 3.93 acres of land situated on Lake Pocotopaug for the establishment of a park. The three were the surviving children of Stephen Griffith Sears who had resided in Chatham.
A study committee comprised of the Rev. H. E. Brown, Joel W. Smith and Fisk Brainard, was empanelled at a Special Town Meeting on October 4, 1909, to evaluate terms of the proposed gift. The Committee reported back to the Selectmen in late December 1908 and at a Special Town Meeting held January 8, 1910, the Town graciously voted to accept the gift, with the property and its care and maintenance to be held and administered by Trustees of Sears Park – a 9 person committee, 3 of whom would be the members of the Board of Selectmen (Ex-officio) and 6 others named in the title transfer. Title formally transferred on May 26, 1910.
In 1914, the Casino was built at a cost of $1,409 by John A. Rich with the Village Improvement Society – the forerunner of the Carnival and then Old Home Day Committees – gifting $700 towards its construction. Those of recent memory recall that this original Casino or Pavilion as it has been known by for many years, burned to the ground on Saturday night, March 15, 2003; the fire being of suspicious origin. The Town Council [Donald P. Markham, Chairman, Christopher Goff, James E. “Pete” Brown, William Farrell, Jr., Thomas DiStefano, Jr., Melissa Engel, and Thomas Cordeiro, with Town Manager Alan Bergren] voted to rebuild the Pavilion at Sears Park at a cost of $301,000 from insurance proceeds along with a donation from the East Hampton Rotary Club of $26,000 for enhancements to the Pavilion. This was a three year project honoring the Centennial Anniversary of Rotary International. The new pavilion was dedicated May 1, 2005.
On May 11, 1961 the Trustees of Sears Park voted but failed to obtain the required two-thirds vote necessary to turn ownership, maintenance and operation over to the Parks and Recreation Commission created by the Town. At the adjourned meeting on May 18th, the Trustees in a second vote adopted a motion that turned “the Trust Land and Assets over to the Park and Recreation Commission of the Town of East Hampton.”
On March 16, 2004, the East Hampton Lions Club donated a 20’ by 40’ Gazebo / Picnic Shelter at an estimated cost of $15,000.
For many years, an excursion motor launch was docked at the Park. Other minor buildings – concession stands – stood on the easterly boundary but were demolished after the first land addition in 1968 from the Nichols Estate. Shortly thereafter, in 1970, the Town constructed both new public restrooms which are located near the entrance and tennis courts. In 1974, the boat launch area was graded and improved and rock obstructing the channel was removed from the water.
Under the auspices of the Town Council, and Board of Selectmen prior thereto, and Park and Recreation Commission have overseen the operations and maintenance of the Park and have made numerous upgrades to this pristine location used by so many for recreation, boating and swimming in our Lake.
The Park has been expanded five times since 1910. Today it encompasses approximately 6.53 acres. From the first gift in 1910, the Town of East Hampton has taken advantage of other properties which have become available to expand it boundaries.
First, as approved by Special Town Meeting on June 26, 1968, .22 acres of land adjacent to Sears Park from the Estate of Mary K. “Mae” Nichols that was bounded by the Lake and Sears Park at a cost of $6,000.
The second, as approved at Special Town Meeting on August 8, 1972, appropriated $10,000 to acquire 1.29 acres of land from Marian R. Dunham, Charles B. Stone Sr. and the Estate of Florence Blau bounded by North Main Street, Sears Lane and Sears Park which is now the site of tennis courts and a parking area.
The third piece approved at Special Town Meeting on January 28 1986, acquired .74 acres on the northerly boundary of Sears Park running from North Main Street to the Lake from Richard and Maria Davilla with an appropriation of $132,000.
The fourth piece approved at Special Town Meeting on June, 1996, acquired .11 acres on the northerly boundary of the Davilla parcel running to the Lake from Edith Anderson as a gift to the Town.
The fifth piece approved at Special Town Meeting on October 7, 2004, acquired .14 acres on the northerly boundary of Sears Park running from North Main Street to the Lake from he northerly boundary of the Davilla parcel with an appropriation of $310,000 from Florence Smith.
At the February 22, 1933 Trustee Meeting, it was voted “to appropriate the sum of $100 for the purpose of clearing the park of surplus trees, bushes and rocks to provide work for the unemployed,” this being the height of the Great Depression.
At the September 11, 1934 meeting it was voted that “the Trustees accept the proposition of Selectman Merton Weir to build suitable Pillars at the entrance and Wall to extend along the front of Sears Park, the labor to be paid for by F.E.R.A. [the Federal Emergency Relief Act] and material and truckage to be paid from the Trustees of Sears Park. Provisions to be left are the right hand Pillar on which be placed a Bronze Tablet as a memorial to the heirs of Stephen G. Sears.” The tablet with anchor bolts made by the Bradley and Hubbard Mfg. Co. cost $87.50.
At the April 22, 1935 Trustee meeting, resolution passed that “granted the Central Connecticut Council Inc. of Boy Scouts of American the privilege of erecting and maintaining a temporary dock and roadway to said dock as per Scout Executive John D Roberts letter dated March 7, 1935, such privilege to extend for a term of eight years.
At the same meeting, the Trustees voted to accept Mr. Eugene Nichols gift of $200 and thank him for the services to the park for the many past years. The Trustees then voted that they would grant no concessions in the Park for a term of two years. Mr. Nichols operated his own concession stands from his property which was eventually purchased by the Town.
At the July 8, 1946 meeting, the Trustees voted to increase the insurance coverage on the Pavilion not to exceed $4,000.
At the May 25, 1948 trustee meeting, voted to charge a fee of 25 cents for parking cars in the Park on Saturdays, Sundays and Holiday in order to provide extra revenue for the Park. On June 15th, a short meeting was held with William and Milton Nichols at the Park. The Nichol’s Brothers offered the Trustees a donation of $200, which was accepted. In view of this gift, the Trustees decided not to charge parking during the 1948 season.
At the June 7, 1951 meeting, the Trustees continued the policy of no concessions after receipt of a $125 gift from Mr. William Nichols. The Trustees also voted to reject the request from the Village Improvement Society for a “Merry Go Round” or similar amusement devise at their Carnival to be located in Sears Park.
At the July 8, 1952 meeting, Mr. William Nichols was not reappointed a Superintendent as he was no longer a resident of East Hampton. Motion was made by Trustee Leon Voisin that Christopher Christopher be contacted to see if he would act as Superintendent. Following the meeting, Mr. Christopher was contacted and agreed to act as Superintendent for the year.
Deacon Stephen Griffith Sears
Deacon Stephen Griffith Sears was born in Chatham September 27, 1803, married Emily Veazey, daughter of Eleazar and Elizabeth (West) Veazey on May 3, 1831 and died in East Hampton Society on October 12, 1874. Sears was descended from a long line of family in Yarmouth and Harwich on Cape Cod. They had four children: Mary Elizabeth, born January 12, 1835, who married Bennette Gillette; Clark Osprey, who was a State Representative in 18756-76 and appointed Postmaster in 1885, was born July 24, 1836, and married Charlotte Josephine Fielding; Cr. Cushman Allen Sears, born September 26, 1838 and married Evelyn Lay; and, Caroline Desire Sears, born April 24, 1843.
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