Government

We’re writing not only about those municipal bodies that all local media outlets cover—New Canaan Board of Selectmen, Town Council, Department of Public Works—but also the Public Tree Board, Traffic-Calming Work Group, Parking Commission and Park & Recreation Commission.

Recent Articles

‘Drifting Silver Rain with Crackling Tail’: New Canaan Family Fourth Committee Eyes Even More Spectacular Fireworks Show at Waveny

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rivSKA5gpc

Town officials this week approved a $30,000 contract with a Douglassville, Pa.-based pyrotechnic company to put on an even more spectacular fireworks show at the Waveny July 4th event this summer. The Family Fourth is paid for entirely out of private funds, raised mainly through sales of passes as well as generous donations. This year, the town is upping its contract between the recreation director and International Fireworks Mfg. Co. from $25,000 to $30,000—partly a step increase after the former price had been held for nearly 10 years, and partly because “we decided we wanted to add a few more things to the show and make it a more exciting show,” Recreation Director and Family Fourth Committee member Steve Benko told the Board of Selectmen at its regular meeting. Continue Reading →

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Seeking Less Costly Option, Town Council Rejects $550,000 Renovation Project at Vine Cottage

Saying they need to understand the building’s long-term purpose first and whether it could be passably restored (and legally occupied) for less money, members of New Canaan’s legislative body on Wednesday night unanimously rejected a proposal to renovate Vine Cottage for $550,000. The Town Council voted 10-0 against the bond issuance during its regular meeting. Councilman Christa Kenin said that though she appreciates the work that Architectural Preservation Studio, DPC put into a more comprehensive plan for the ca. 1860-built gabled structure, “I was a little surprised to see it on the agenda as a request for a bond.”

“It is a sweet house that needs a lot of work,” Kenin said, yet she’s a member of a recently appointed committee that’s been charged with making recommendations about town-owned buildings “and this is one of buildings that is at the top of our list to evaluate.”

“And I think even approving—whether it’s $550,000 or to come back to $100,000 before it falls to the ground—makes the assumption that we are going to hold onto this building, which may or may not be the case six months from now when we study the 44-plus buildings that the town is responsible for,” she said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. Ultimately, the Town Council charged New Canaan’s buildings superintendent with figuring out what would be the least costly project at Vine Cottage to make it inhabitable—by the town’s Human Services Department, its current occupant—for the next several months, until the Town Building Evaluation and Use Committee comes forward with a recommendation on what to do. Continue Reading →

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‘A Great Asset to the Town’: Selectmen Appoint New Canaan Chief Building Official To Next Four-Year Term

Officials on Tuesday appointed to a new four-year term New Canaan’s chief building official, an award-winning veteran municipal employee who oversees land use matters for the town. In his position here for 12 years, Brian Platz “is definitely our and has been recognized for his knowledge of the state’s building code,” First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said during a regular meeting of the Board of Selectman. “Last year, he received the highest honor from his peers, the Connecticut Building Officials Association for his work,” Mallozzi said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. “He also was elected president of that same group years back. Brian has stepped up in his managerial duties, he has taken a lead on budgetary and workflow issues, most recently bringing to our attention the delta between the actual land use fees and projected revenue sources.”

The board—Mallozzi together with Selectmen Beth Jones and Nick Williams—voted 3-0 for Platz’s appointment, through April 2021. Continue Reading →

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Town To Offer New ‘Commercial Permit’ Parking in Morse Court, Park Street Lots for Downtown Workers

In what parking officials are calling an experiment, the town plans to sell up to 20 “commercial permits” for each of the Morse Court and Park Street lots to people who work in the business district. It isn’t clear just when the Parking Bureau will start selling the new permits or how the Parking Bureau will prioritize their availability, officials said Tuesday. Designed to serve business owners and workers who otherwise take up coveted short-term parking spots on Main and Elm Streets that rightly should go to people who shop and dine downtown, the permits should be made available when the new fiscal year starts July 1, according to Parking Superintendent Stacy Miltenberg. “We have not worked out how offer these new permit spots to employees of stores in town,” Miltenberg told the Board of Selectmen at its regular meeting, held in Town Hall. “At this point we are working through that, but we are going to have it set prior to the renewals that go out in May. Continue Reading →

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‘We Will Have To Make Some Hard Decisions’: District Officials Address $1 Million Reduction to Budget Request

The Board of Education in proposing its original 2.76 percent operating budget increase already had factored in year-over-year reductions in spending on employee benefits, contracted services and supplies, officials said last week. Now that the district is faced with, at most, a 1.6 percent operating increase for next year—following a $1 million reduction to its $88.6 million proposal by the Board of Finance—the schools will “have to look at everything,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi told members of the Town Council at their March 15 regular meeting. Since the superintendent’s own original proposed budget increase, the school board went “through the process initially of reducing and making some tough choices about initiatives and programs coming in, so we have to get back to the table and really take a hard look at everything that we have and make some decisions.”

“We will continue to keep an eye on insurance as best we can, but ultimately I will be sitting with the administrative team, we will look at everything with the Board of Education and share with them some options and decisions. It is premature to say specifically ‘this program’ and that program’ but it is going to be our responsibility is to look at it.”

The comments come as the district looks at a $1.38 million increase to its budget—and it may be less, as the Town Council has the ability to reduce it further (though not to add to it)—while it’s contractually required to pay $1.76 million more to employees (mostly teachers). Councilman John Engel asked Luizzi at the meeting: “Where is this cut going to come from?”

“Do you think that it’s fair to say electives are going to be the first things to look at? Continue Reading →

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