‘The Building Is Going To Come Down’: First Selectman Vows To Demolish ‘Mead Park Brick Barn,’ Withholds Details on How

Without specifying just how it would happen, New Canaan’s highest elected official said Thursday that the century-old brick structure at the northern edge of Mead Park—a former fuel depot that historic preservationists want to save while others want to raze—will be demolished. Referring vaguely to “a process” regarding what preservationists call the “Mead Park Brick Barn,” First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said during a press briefing in his office at Town Hall that “it’s going to play out and then the building is going to come down.”

The most recent town body to weigh in on the future of what has also been called the “Richmond Hill Garage,” the Planning & Zoning Commission, voted unanimously at its Oct. 30 meeting to “abandon” the building—checking off a box required by state law in cases where a municipality divests itself of real property. Yet P&Z’s vote appears to have no bearing on a separate decision that falls to the Board of Selectmen—namely, to approve the contracts for a company to physically knock the building down and cart away its remains. The selectmen during their Oct.

P&Z Approves Plan To ‘Abandon’ Richmond Hill Garage; Future of ‘Mead Park Brick Barn’ Still Unclear

Saying the abandonment—and, by implication, demolition—of a century-old, vacant brick building at the northern edge of Mead Park has been approved by multiple town bodies in the past, would improve the view there and is consistent with development guidelines for New Canaan, the Planning & Zoning Commission on Tuesday night voted unanimously to support a plan to relinquish it. Because the “Mead Park Brick Barn” or “Richmond Hill Garage” at 64 Richmond Hill Road is a town-owned building, P&Z approval is required under state law to “abandon” it. 

Even with P&Z’s 9-0 vote, however, the future of the building remains as unclear as it has since last week, when the Board of Selectmen decided to forgo voting on contracts to demolish it and dispose safely of its remains. During an interview after P&Z’s vote, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan, a proponent of demolition, said the contracts must come back to the selectmen for a vote (the Board is scheduled to meet Nov. 6). Referring to parts of New Canaan’s periodically updated Plan of Conservation and Development or ‘POCD,’ P&Z Commissioners asserted that clearing the area of the brick structure offered advantages that outweighed what could be gained by preserving it. 

Chairman John Goodwin said the POCD requires New Canaan to “make some tradeoffs” with respect to historic buildings such as barns.

Town Solicits Bids To Demolish ‘Mead Park Brick Barn’

The town on Thursday took a step toward demolishing the ‘Mead Park Brick Barn’ by putting out a formal request for bids from companies to raze the widely discussed structure, New Canaan’s highest elected official said. The bids are due back Oct. 18, Kevin Moynihan said during a press briefing held Thursday morning at Town Hall. “This is very ministerial at this point,” he said. 

The Brick Barn is slated for demolition Oct. 23, after the town issued a 90-day delay in August.

Op-Ed: The Brick Barn Risk to Taxpayers

The Mead Park Brick Barn debate should focus on New Canaan taxpayers. Should we underwrite the cost of preserving the Barn in perpetuity? Most would say no. 

The New Canaan Preservation Alliance claims that its September 12 proposal “Eliminates all Town costs related to [the] Barn.” That’s what taxpayers want to hear. But the claim would be true only if the State of Connecticut continues grant and tax credit programs at current levels for several years, if the State approves the full amount of NCPA submissions in each of three consecutive years, and if private donations are sufficient to defray any short-term and long-term maintenance costs not funded by the State. 

That’s a lot of “ifs.”