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.
Town officials last week approved a $100,000 contract to restore broken windows at the 1908-built Irwin Barn, including some that resulted from vandalism. The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously at its regular meeting for the contract with Ridgefield-based Alden Bailey Restoration, one of two companies that put in a bid for the job. “They need a lot of health and care to get back up to par,” Buildings Superintendent Bill Oestmann told the selectmen at their Oct. 9 meeting, held in Town Hall. “There’s a couple that will have to be replaced.”
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectmen Kit Devereaux and Nick Williams voted 3-0 for $101,200 contract, which includes $9,200 in contingency.
New Canaan has seen a dramatic decline in the number of residents purchasing passes for the tennis courts at Mead Park, according to officials who now want to consider alternate uses for some of them. Members of the Parks & Recreation Commission said Wednesday night that while residents purchased some 400 passes a dozen years ago to play on the clay courts at Mead, that number declined to about 300 from 2012 to 2015, then 147 last year and just 112 this season, whose opening was delayed due to a contractor’s failure. “They have dropped by two-thirds almost,” Commission Chair Sally Campbell said during the group’s regular meeting, held at Latham Community Center. “So it appears there is not real heavy usage of the courts anymore. So we were thinking we have a little group some committee members who are going to look at what would be best thing to do with those courts.
A Green Avenue man filed a formal complaint with New Canaan’s highest elected official that crews installing gas lines on Saturday worked during off-hours in a way that’s been disruptive for residents.
Drew Magratten in an email to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said the crews worked from 6:30 a.m. until past 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 6, and in doing so “have abused our neighborhood’s good will.”
“We pay a lot of money to live here and it is NOT in order to have to listen to endless beeping, yelling and diesel-powered equipment rumbling at all hours,” Magratten said in his email, obtained by NewCanaanite.com. “Our street and the adjacent street has been blocked by large equipment all week and God only knows when they will finish, if ever.”
The letter continued: “Who is permitting this? You? The town’s residents did not agree to these disruptions. My neighbors and I would like some assurances that they will stop. Immediately.”
Moynihan during Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting at Town Hall acknowledged that Magratten is “absolutely right” and that the town did not give permission for Saturday evening work.
New Canaan is seeing an increasing number of food trucks pulling into town parks, alongside the new athletic fields by the Waveny water towers and elsewhere, to the point where it’s affecting local businesses, officials say, and creating a need for a formal policy with teeth. Though town officials have dealt with eager food truck vendors for years—at times running them out of public parks (where they’re not allowed), pointing them toward a “Peddlers” or “Itinerant Vendors” license that’s outlined in the Town Code, or even inventing rules about how licensed trucks can only go to construction sites—there’s no ordinance on the books that limits when and where those vendors can go, and no fine or enforcement agency to back up a formal policy in any case.
“We are getting kind of overrun with food trucks and we don’t really have something specifically in place,” New Canaan Director of Health Jen Eielson told members of the Town Council’s Bylaws and Ordinances Committee at its meeting last week. “It’s starting to run more rampant and then they [food truck vendors] want to have more trucks, and we are trying to limit it because we are getting flack from the businesses in town that pay a lot of money in rent, so I understand their plight and it’s not really fair to them.”
Nearby towns that are similar to New Canaan have rules in their Charters or zoning regulations that are enforced by police or other agencies in the municipality, Eielson said.
While New Canaan for specific events, such as the Family Fourth at Waveny or the Sidewalk Sales downtown, has food trucks come in as caterers—complete with license checks and health inspections, as well as agreed-upon terms of hours and location—open questions remain about what types of trucks the town may want and what sorts of checks should be required of the businesspeople that operate them.
Councilman Steve Karl, a committee co-chair, said there’s “definitely a need” for either a beefed-up “Itinerant Vendors” ordinance or new one.
“Any time we have something like this where you see it’s growing, it’s up to us in the town to control it,” he said. Karl added: “You look at all of the good work that Baskin Robbins does in terms of charity and volunteering and all of the stuff that goes into having a business, and they pay rent to be there, and to have somebody pull up in a truck and take some business away from someone like that, that is a pretty big deal. And I think all of New Canaan and all of the taxpayers they would side on Baskin Robbins’ side.”
Ultimately, the Committee called on Eielson, with help from Administrative Officer Tom Stadler, who also deals with food trucks, to propose some language that the group could bring to the full Town Council.
New Canaan’s highest elected official said Tuesday that he would like to appoint a new committee of architects to set a strategy for capital improvements at Waveny House. A project to introduce air-conditioning at Waveny, for example, and overhaul its HVAC system, would cost $2.5 million, according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan. “Do we want to do that?” Moynihan said during a regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen, held at Town Hall. “We would look to this committee to recommend what would be the strategy. So we would not be planning to do an $8 million or $10 million or $12 million renovation of Waveny House.