I was honored to be one of three New Canaan Preservation Alliance (“NCPA”, a 501(c)3 organization) representatives who, on July 23, presented to our First Selectman and Town Council Chairman NCPA’s offer to lease long-term, immediately stabilize, improve, and maintain the Mead Park Brick Barn (“MPBB”), a locally important and nationally scarce property listed on the Connecticut State Register Of Historic Places.
The First Selectman’s response to NCPA’s credible long-term lease and restoration proposal was surprising. Within one day of meeting with NCPA (i) NCPA’s meeting request that he and the Town Council Chairman inform NCPA as to how and when earliest to present its proposal to New Canaan’s entire Town Council for its due consideration was ignored, (ii) NCPA’s proposal was shelved, and (iii) the Town’s demolition permit application process was started.
- NCPA proposed to immediately save and improve a building that New Canaan has admittedly neglected to maintain and lease for decades.
- NCPA proposed to immediately invest up to $40,000 to secure this approximately 800 square foot building, repair its doors, windows and roof, clean-up its perimeter landscape and occupy the building in a low impact manner.
- As additional consideration, NCPA (which is presently solely funding Waveny Park’s application to the U.S. National Historic Register) offered to assist our Town in applying for preservation and improvement grants for other qualifying New Canaan owned historic properties—to save New Canaan additional moneys. (NCPA obtained one such grant for the MPBB, which New Canaan’s previous administration inexplicably forwent.)
- NCPA will immediately save the Town Of New Canaan from spending a budgeted $65,000 (no demolition contract bids have yet been requested) to $400,000+ (MPBB demolition bid received by New Canaan in 2010).
At a time that New Canaan’s real estate values continue to decline, at a time that our property owners’ real estate taxes will surely be increased, and in anticipation of potential further tax increases attendant to New Canaan’s latest plan to expend $8.2 to $12 million to acquire and improve the Unimin Building, let’s take a first step now to save taxpayers’ money and restore common sense to our Town’s property use and management process.
Let’s begin now by enabling NCPA to preserve an historic and valuable Town building, while immediately saving New Canaan from an unnecessary expenditure, the true amount of which our Town has not recently determined.
I ask readers to please write, e-mail and in every way inform all New Canaan Town Council members that you support NCPA in its sensible proposal to immediately preserve the historic and valuable MPBB, and to further help our Town save money and preserve and improve its other qualifying properties.
Charles L. Robinson