A committee charged with evaluating the uses, condition and future needs of town-owned buildings decided Monday to start its work by figuring out what data points it must have to conduct an analysis and make recommendations.
Ultimately, the work of the Town Building Evaluation and Use Committee is expected to help officials prioritize taxpayer funding for competing capital projects—a job made more difficult without a basis for comparison, according to Amy Murphy Carroll, a committee member elected as co-chair of the group during its first meeting.
“There is a lot of information for all these buildings,” Carroll said during the meeting, held in a board room at Town Hall. “What I am seeing is that we have all these buildings—the Nature Center and whatever—but I don’t feel we have a good sense of how they are used.”
With institutional knowledge and documentation from Department of Public Works officials in hand—such as each building’s operating expenses and an estimation of future capital needs—two-person “teams” from within the seven-member committee could made field visits to the various structures and collect all the desired information, Carroll said.
“So then we have ‘This is the state of our building,’ This is what it needs,’ ‘This is how we use it’ and ‘This is how the town uses it,’ ” she said.
Appointed by the Board of Selectmen two weeks ago, the committee’s members include Penny Young (co-chair), Ben Bilus (secretary), Neil Budnick, Bill Holmes, Christa Kenin and Martin Skrelunas.
The group set a goal of finishing its work by Sept. 15, including making recommendations based on its findings.
DPW Superintendent of Buildings Bill Oestmann, a 22-year town employee and the first ever in his specific role (for the past six years), said that on starting the job he was told there were 28 town-owned buildings but that he has “discovered a whole lot more since then.”
The committee’s work will encompass some 44-plus municipally owned structures, Young said.
New Canaan Public Schools buildings are not part of the committee’s evaluation.
First Selectman Rob Mallozzi, who attended the meeting, urged the committee to find out for the various buildings whether a private user group—such as the Girl Scouts at Merrie Bee Cabin—is paying for its capital upkeep.
“It’s the ones that are going to cost the taxpayers, where they will bear the full burden, that probably should be elevated,” Mallozzi said.
The question of private funding will figure as one data point in a “template” that the committee said it plans to compile at its next meeting, based on input from members. With that in hand, the group decided, specific building assignments will be made for its members.
During the meeting, committee members introduced themselves and discussed what kind of public noticing would be required when fact-finding and consulting with one another or with DPW officials.