John Engel

Recent Articles

Despite Calls To Slow Down, Town Council by 7-3 Vote Approves Redesign of ‘Parterre Garden’ at Waveny

Thanking the volunteers who conceived of the plan and vowed to fund it—and despite opposition from some professional landscape architects—New Canaan’s legislative body on Wednesday night voted in favor of a redesign of a prominent garden at Waveny. The Town Council—New Canaan’s land use authority—at its special meeting voted 7-3 in favor of what some have called a “substantial redesign” of the parterre or “upper garden” at the beloved town park, though a national organization and prominent local landscape architect cautioned against a hasty approval. During an emotionally charged meeting at Town Hall, councilmen expressed regret that the two parties holding different opinions on what is best for the garden—the New Canaan Garden Club on one side with the redesign, and Keith Simpson Associates and a Washington, D.C.-based coalition on the other, advocating for a historic restoration—could not find a middle ground. Councilman Joe Paladino said he would like to see an “expanded dialogue” between the two sides—calling the Garden Club “an agency with decades and decades” of service to the town, and Simpson himself “an individual with hundreds and hundreds of hours that have benefitted our town.”

Yet a respectful exchange of ideas did not appear to be forthcoming, and the Town Council after some discussion approved the Garden Club’s plan. Those voting in favor included Chairman John Engel, Vice Chairmen Sven Englund and Rich Townsend, Steve Karl, Christa Kenin, Cristina A. Ross and Liz Donovan. Continue Reading →

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‘A Failure of Town Leadership’: Audit Committee Critical of How NCHS Fields Projects Unfolded

Though the donors and volunteers who gave time, money and energy to the partially completed fields projects at New Canaan High School deserve sincere thanks, the town also saw failures on multiple levels that led to undisclosed cost overruns, the chairman of the Audit Committee said Wednesday night. There were “adequate controls in place which should have helped avoid the issues and surprises that we had,” Bill Parrett told members of the Town Council during their regular meeting. “This is really important to understand, because if there were not adequate controls, we would have had material weaknesses from an accounting standpoint and having material weaknesses from an accounting standpoint would be very difficult to rectify in a short period. It looks to us that the issues are more about bad management—possibly waste—versus poor controls. There was a failure of town leadership, department leadership, boards, committees and councils, in our judgment.”

He spoke during an update for the Council on the Audit Committee’s review of how the projects at NCHS—rebuilding of a turf field, creation of two more and total overhaul of the track—came to cost New Canaan an estimated $800,000 more than originally thought. Continue Reading →

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‘No One Is Forgotten’: Officials Unveil Plaques Honoring Korean, Vietnam, Gulf Wars and War on Terror Veterans at Town Hall

During the Vietnam War, Peter Langenus had what he recalled on Saturday morning as “the honor and privilege” of commanding a rifle company. The Third Battalion, Seventh Infantry, 199th Light Infantry Brigade was, the New Canaan man said, “200 18- and 19-year-old kids with rifles, machine guns and grenades.”

“They are the soldiers that carry the burden,” Langenus, commander of VFW Post 653, told about 100 residents gathered in the new northern entrance to Town Hall for a special dedication following New Canaan’s annual Veterans Day ceremony at God’s Acre. “The grunts. The war fighters. The gunslingers. Continue Reading →

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Kevin Moynihan Wins New Canaan First Selectman Race by 33 Votes [UPDATED]

Kevin Moynihan, a longtime resident and community volunteer who has served for four years on the Town Council, won election to New Canaan’s top municipal office on Tuesday by 33 votes. The Republican earned 2,684 votes in a widely anticipated first selectman race against Democrat Kit Devereaux, who received 2,651 votes, according to figures supplied by the New Canaan Registrars of Voters. The .6 percent margin of victory —a math-defying outcome, given the party makeup of New Canaan’s electorate—narrowly beats the state-mandated recount figure of .5 percent. Moynihan said he felt “wonderful” though “we expected to do better, quite honestly.” “I am surprised it was so close,” he told NewCanaanite.com. Continue Reading →

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Election 2017: New Canaan Hub [UPDATED]

What follows is a digital voter guide for Tuesday’s election. Voter Turnout

As of 6 p.m., 4,986 New Canaan residents had cast their ballots—322 by absentee ballot and 4,664 at the polls. The number of residents casting ballots at Saxe and NCHS represents a 42 percent increase over the last local election through the same hour. If voters turn out this year at the same rate as they did in 2015, New Canaan will see a 39 percent turnout. Here’s a table detailing total voter turnout in recent local elections:

 

And here’s a table that compares hourly voter turnout two years ago—when there was no truly contested first selectman race—to this year:

 

Kit Devereaux, Democratic candidate for first selectman, said minutes before she entered Saxe to cast her own ballot that she was “feeling really good” about the campaign and election. “I think I’ve done absolutely everything I can, and so now it’s just a matter of waiting to see what happens,” she told NewCanaanite.com. Continue Reading →

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