New Canaan Committee Conducted Illegal Meetings, State Official Says

The town of New Canaan violated state sunshine laws by failing to notice or open to the public a series of meetings held over several months last year, state officials say. Site visits conducted by two-person teams of the Building Evaluation & Use Committee—a group charged in February 2017 with studying and making recommendations about town-owned buildings—constituted “special meetings of a subcommittee” and “were subject to public notice and meeting minutes requirements,” according to attorney Valicia Dee Harmon, hearing officer of the state Freedom of Information Commission. After overseeing hearings at the Commission’s offices in Hartford on Dec. 5 and Feb. 6, to address a complaint about the meetings brought by NewCanaanite.com, Harmon found that the town, committee and Co-chairpersons Penny Young and Amy Murphy Carroll violated two provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

Did You Hear … ?

The town on May 11 received an application for the owner of the Huguette Clark estate on Dan’s Highway to build a tennis court on the 52-acre property. The 120-by-60-foot court will cost $98,750 to build. The contractor on the job is Oval Tennis Inc. of Somers, N.Y., architect Frangione Engineering LLC of New Canaan. ***

Congratulations to New Canaan High School senior lacrosse player Nick Crovatto, who broke a longstanding Rams record Monday in a game vs. Trumbull with his 676th faceoff win.

How Involved Should Residents Be in Deciding the Future of Public Buildings?

Though their input is valuable, New Canaan taxpayers ultimately should rely on their elected and appointed representatives to make decisions regarding the future of town-owned buildings rather than put such questions to a public referendum, officials say. Structures such as Gores Pavilion, Vine Cottage and Irwin House “don’t exist in a vacuum” and their capital needs are part of “a very fluid process,” Board of Finance member and Town Building Evaluation & Use Committee co-chair Amy Murphy Carroll said during the recent Forum on Public Buildings. Responding to a suggestion that putting key decisions on public buildings to a ballot so that residents can determine “what they do with their tax dollars,” Murphy Carroll questioned “how that it would be all that productive to do that.”

“You elected the people on the Town Council, right?” she said during the April 26 forum, held at Town hall. “You elected your representatives.”

While Murphy Carroll and her fellow panelists—First Selectman Kevin Moynihan, Town Council Chairman John Engel, and Town Council members Cristina A. Ross and Penny Young, who also served as committee co-chair—agreed that input from the community is greatly encouraged and appreciated, she and others stressed that residents should also trust them to make the best decisions for the town. Young said that there need to be more public forums allowing residents to express their opinions about how the buildings should be used.