The superintendent of schools on Wednesday night presented a subcommittee of New Canaan’s legislative body with details of a proposal to create an “alternative high school” program for students with specific health challenges in New Canaan to be housed at the former Outback Teen Center behind Town Hall. Dr. Bryan Luizzi and Assistant Superintendent of Pupil and Family Services Darlene Pianka outlined their vision for a program to replace New Canaan High School’s current Afternoon Instructional Program, or ‘AIP,’ which is held in the school’s media center. AIP is currently only available to four to 10 upperclassmen at a time, while Luizzi’s proposal will potentially provide full- or half-day instruction for six to 12 students in grades 8-12 based on their educational and therapeutic needs, they told members of the Town Council’s Education Committee.
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Thanking the volunteers who conceived of the plan and vowed to fund it—and despite opposition from some professional landscape architects—New Canaan’s legislative body on Wednesday night voted in favor of a redesign of a prominent garden at Waveny. The Town Council—New Canaan’s land use authority—at its special meeting voted 7-3 in favor of what some have called a “substantial redesign” of the parterre or “upper garden” at the beloved town park, though a national organization and prominent local landscape architect cautioned against a hasty approval. During an emotionally charged meeting at Town Hall, councilmen expressed regret that the two parties holding different opinions on what is best for the garden—the New Canaan Garden Club on one side with the redesign, and Keith Simpson Associates and a Washington, D.C.-based coalition on the other, advocating for a historic restoration—could not find a middle ground.
Seven candidates—four Republicans and three Democrats—are vying for six Town Council seats that are up for election on Tuesday. For reasons listed below, I am endorsing three Republicans—John Engel, Rich Townsend and Tom Butterworth—and three Democrats—Sven Englund, Colm Dobbyn and Liz Donovan. Two candidates, incumbents Engel and Englund, most clearly have earned re-election to the legislative body.
New Canaan’s strong zoning is one of its most important assets, according to one incumbent member of the town’s legislative body. The zoning regulations are what underpin property values here, yet in recent years—considering the handling of applications for Merritt Village, Grace Farms, the Roger Sherman Inn, mixed-use on Forest Street and “Zone D” on Grove Street, New Canaan has been “managing by exception,” according to Town Councilman John Engel. “The mere fact that we have 100 caveats to the Grace Farms approval, another 100 for the Merritt Village approval, shows that we have got to do a better job of getting in front of this and the evidence is, it is costing us money,” Engel, a Republican seeking re-election to the Town Council, said during a debate last week.
Editor, New Canaanite:
We are fortunate to have four excellent Republican candidates for Town Council. Penny Young has been a major contributor to the town for many years. She brings institutional memory with a deep understanding of our town government.