Attorney: Town Can Rescind $65,000 Allocation To Demolish ‘Mead Park Brick Barn’

As an apparent deadline for the town to move forward with the demolition of the Mead Park Brick Barn looms, preservationists have obtained the opinion of a prominent attorney that New Canaan’s legislative body may legally undo its approval of funds to raze the widely discussed structure. Citing case law that specifies a town’s legislative body “possesses the unquestioned power to rescind prior acts,” attorney Daniel E. Casagrande, a partner at Danbury-based Career & Anderson, concludes that “the Town Council has the inherent power to rescind or reduce its appropriation for the demolition of the Barn.”

“Neither the Charter nor the General Statutes contain any provision barring the Town Council from rescinding or reducing an appropriation,” Casagrande wrote in a Dec. 18 opinion sent to members of the New Canaan Preservation Alliance, which had retained him. 

“Similarly, the Town Council’s rules contain no restriction on its authority to rescind or reduce an appropriation. Finally, since the Board of Selectmen has not yet acted to award a demolition contract, no vested rights in any third party have intervened that would limit the Town Council’s rescission power.”

Casagrande referred to the Town Council’s vote in May to approve $65,000 for the Barn’s demolition—a 6-6 tie broken by the first selectman, as per the Town Charter. The attorney’s findings come as New Canaan nears a deadline with respect to two companies that won bids to tear down the century-old structure at the northern edge of Mead Park— where Standard Oil’s horse-drawn delivery wagons used to fill containers for fuel delivery in New Canaan—and dispose safely of its remains.

Letter: Allow the Preservationists To Restore the ‘Mead Park Brick Barn’

Editor:

In the spirit of the season it is so cheerful to see the sad, antique Mead Park Brick Barn sporting that lovely wreath. Thanks to the person who so thoughtfully placed it there. Several thoughts with regard to the barn dilemma: 

In order to meet the very expensive “needs” of our community our town is faced with having to raise the mill rate to compensate for lower values of our homes and property. Happy Holidays to all! Our elected officials can change their minds and better allocate the $65,000 allotted for the proposed demolition to a more necessary purpose.

‘Mead Park Brick Barn’: Preservationists Ask for Demolition Sign’s Removal; Selectmen Divided

The municipal body that by Town Charter would need to approve contracts related to the demolition of a widely discussed building at the northern edge of Mead Park remains divided about whether or not to support a nonprofit organization’s efforts to restore it. During their regular meeting last week, members of the Board of Selectmen heard from two members of the New Canaan Preservation Alliance. The organization is requesting that the ‘Notice of Demolition’ sign be removed from the  ‘Mead Park Brick Barn,’ to be allowed to spruce up the abandoned Richmond Hill Road (with some outdoor cleanup and a wreath) and to get feedback on a proposed lease agreement. 

Yet at the close of the Dec. 4 meeting, when Selectman Kit Devereaux asked for information on where the town stands with respect to the NCPA, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said that the organization cannot make a request of the selectmen through a meeting’s public comment period. Selectman Nick Williams called the NCPA’s offer “generous.”

“I don’t think it has any bearing on demo or not demoing,” Williams said at the meeting, held in Town Hall.

Did You Hear … ?

“It’s the Rams. We’re coming.” New Canaan High School defeated rival Darien in the Turkey Bowl Thursday, 17-14. The game featured two early interceptions by NCHS senior Charlie Cunney, rushing TD by sophomore Christian Sweeney, field goal by sophomore kicker Nicholas Radman and Drew Pyne-to-Wyatt Wilson TD pass and terrific defensive stand by the Rams to effectively close out the game, spoiling Darien’s perfect season. The result means that New Canaan First Selectman Kevin Moynihan collects on his $100 charity bet with his Darien counterpart, Jayme Stevenson. He will donate the winnings to the New Canaan Athletic Foundation (a timely gift).