Saddened by news of Jim Cole’s passing this week, New Canaanites are remembering the longtime former resident as a dedicated volunteer who served the community quietly and in numerous ways while helping to shape emergency preparedness in town. A former chairman of the New Canaan Police and Fire Commissions who went on to become the town’s director and later deputy director of Emergency Management and served on its Traffic Calming Work Group, Cole died Monday in Florida, according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan. In calling for a moment of silence at a regular meeting of the Board of Finance on Tuesday night, Moynihan called Cole “a great friend of New Canaan” and “great volunteer” alongside his wife, Nancy Upton. Known for his deep involvement in the Congregational Church of New Canaan, local service organizations and the Community Emergency Response Team, a volunteer group known as ‘CERT,’ Cole was a widely respected expert on emergency response for whom the safety of the community was imperative, according to those who knew him.
He not only helped plan for emergencies but also rolled up his sleeves to work hard when they struck, according to Mike Handler, New Canaan’s director of emergency management. Handler called Cole “a remarkable guy” who “took community engagement and involvement to a different level” not only as a volunteer but also as a great recruiter who was “fiercely loyal” to those who gave of their time as he did.
Town officials plan to install two crosswalks and three signs around God’s Acre in order to make the area safer for the scores of pedestrians who travel through it on foot as commuters, residents, church-goers, downtown visitors and others. Motorists who come off of Main Street and zip up by God’s Acre often come suddenly upon pedestrians seeking to cross Park Street at the crest of the hill, where St. John’s Place comes in, officials say. To notify those motorists that someone up ahead is about to cross a planned new crosswalk—one will come directly across Park Street to the southern corner of St. John’s Place, another spanning St.
The wide, often harrowing intersection at Elm and Weed Streets may get a traffic-calming measure by default next summer, officials say, if the town approves funds for a new sidewalk connecting the top of Elm to Irwin Park. Residents have filed complaints with the town recently about the intersection itself, chiefly that motorists zipping down Weed are cutting into Elm by making that left-hand turn too sharply, according to members of the Traffic Calming Work Group. The problem is exacerbated because of difficult sightlines for motorists pulling up to the stop sign at the top of Elm, who need to nose onto Weed in order to see who’s coming, according to Jim Cole, deputy director of the Office of Emergency Management. “They are not leaving room for the car to get around them,” Cole said at the Oct. 14 meeting of the work group, held in the Training Room at the New Canaan Police Department.
Town officials are trying to figure out a safe way for residents on Down River Road to hook up with the Main Street sidewalk, providing a route to the village center. The first step, according to Tiger Mann, assistant director of the New Canaan Department of Public Works, is to see if there’s a way to get those pedestrians at least as far as the treatment plant driveway—just halfway to a crosswalk at Harrison but at least clear of the blind curve north of Woodland. Michael Stayman of 36 Down River Road, one of nine homes on the street, told Mann and other members of the Traffic Calming Work Group at their most recent meeting that as of now, residents are taking their lives into their hands by running across to the sidewalk on the west side of Main right at Down River Road. “We don’t have any other way because the road is on the opposite side of Main Street from the sidewalk,” Stayman said at the meeting, held Oct. 14 in the training room at the New Canaan Police Department.