By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer
BEACON FALLS — The town last week ended its park ranger program due to a lack of insurance and concerns about potential liability.
“It was too much liability for the ranger and the town,” First Selectman Gerard Smith said. “We couldn’t sustain the position.”
Smith formally appointed Allan Banyacsky the official park ranger in February 2020. Banyacsky previously volunteered to improve the town’s parks and was known informally as the town’s ranger.
The appointed park ranger was a volunteer position with no set hours that reported to Smith, who delegated that Banyacsky report to the resident state trooper. The duties included surveying and building new trails, overseeing security and maintenance of trails and parks, enforcing park regulations, and supporting first responders if someone is lost or hurt in a park. The position did not receive compensation.
Banyacsky said he had concerns about what would happen if he were hurt while performing his duties. He did not receive medical coverage as the ranger, which also wasn’t covered by the town’s insurance for any potential liability issues that may arise.
Smith said he contacted the town’s insurance company and was told the company can’t cover Banyacsky in the role.
“There was no insurance for the position,” Smith said.
Banyacsky said the town’s legal counsel also advised against having a park ranger the way the position operated.
“I really enjoyed my job,” Banyacsky said. “I enjoyed making the patrols and talking to people.”
Banyacsky, who is retired, can still volunteer under the guidance of the Parks and Recreation Commission. He said last week he doesn’t plan on volunteering at this time.
Smith said Banyacsky was an asset to the town and it was good to have someone at the parks.
“It’s going to be a great loss for the town,” Smith said. “It will be a position that will be missed.”
Banyacsky pointed to social media posts from residents expressing disappointment with the move. That gives him some comfort, he said.
“It gives me great solace to know that what I did for our town was not in vain,” Banyacsky said.