Neil Budnick

Recent Articles

Officials To Recommend Creation of Town-District Combined ‘Task Force’ To Determine Future Home of Board of Education [CORRECTED]

New Canaan should appoint a task force of town and school district representatives to evaluate what are the best options for a future Board of Education home, according to a primary recommendation committee that’s writing a soon-to-be-released report on the state, uses, capital needs and future of municipally owned buildings. Referring to the former Outback Teen Center as the ‘Town Hall annex,’ the committee also is to recommend that the long-vacant structure be used to house an alternative high school program. The Town Building Evaluation & Use Committee also will recommend that New Canaan “provide funds for architectural engineering designs to address long-delayed, necessary capital improvements at the police station,” co-chairman Amy Murphy Carroll said at the group’s most recent meeting, held Nov. 29 at Town Hall. She read from the Executive Summary of a draft report that’s expected to be presented this month to the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance and Town Council. Continue Reading →

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Committee Mulls Whether Town Should Continue As Owner of Playhouse

Does it make sense for the town to continue to own the New Canaan Playhouse building downtown, especially considering that it needs more than $2 million in repairs? That’s a topic that members of the Town Building Evaluation & Use Committee broached during their most recent meeting at Town Hall. The town acquired the building at 89 Elm St.—which also includes street-level retail space and second-floor offices—in August 2007 for about $2.2 million. However, officials have been mulling in recent years whether it makes sense for the town to continue to lease the facility to BowTie Cinemas and have it operate as a private movie theater, considering the major capital investment needed to make it safe, structurally sound and ADA-compliant. The figure three years ago was pegged at $2.1 million (major line items at the 1923 building include partial roof and brick exterior replacement, elevator and ADA-compliant wheelchair access, new gutters and drainage system and new layout for its sprinkler system). Continue Reading →

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Town Officials Seek Details on Nature Center’s Finances, Use of Buildings

[Editor’s Note: After hearing concerns from someTown Building Evaluation and Use Committee members that their comments had been taken out of context, we added a full and unedited audio file from this portion of the public meeting to the top of this article.]

With an eye on prioritizing capital maintenance and spending, officials say they’re seeking detailed information from the New Canaan Nature Center about how the organization’s various programs use the town-owned buildings that form its campus. The Nature Center uses one set of books for its entire business–including financially successful enterprises such as camp and a popular nursery school—though it isn’t clear just now whether capital investments earmarked for the Oenoke Ridge Road campus are commensurate with those revenue-drivers, according to members of a committee that’s studying town-owned buildings throughout New Canaan. “What we are trying to do is find out whether there is an opportunity for the town to use resources better, and then make informed decisions about where we should do that,” Amy Murphy Carroll, co-chair of the Town Building Evaluation and Use Committee, said at the group’s most recent meeting. “So for instance, the gift shop—there is a revenue line for that of X amount—it’s really pretty minimal and there is lot of space for the gift shop,” Carroll said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. Appointed in February, the committee’s members also include Penny Young (co-chair), Ben Bilus (secretary), Neil Budnick, Bill Holmes, Christa Kenin and Martin Skrelunas. Continue Reading →

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‘You Literally Just Salivate’: Officials Evaluating Town Buildings See Potential in Waveny House

Known to generations of New Canaanites as the elegant host site of weddings, banquets and fundraisers, Waveny House also has largely untapped areas that could serve new uses, officials say. Recreation and public works officials have done a “phenomenal job” of clearing the 17,000-square-foot attic of post-prom props and other items that have collected there for years, according to Bill Holmes, a member of the Town Building Evaluation and Use Committee. “When we go up there, you literally just salivate,” Holmes said during the committee’s April 10 meeting, held at Town Hall. “The space is beautiful. There are skylights.”

Part of a two-person team studying the 1912-built town-owned building, together with committee co-chair Penny Young, Holmes added: “The notes we are making as we went through the basement, there are so many rooms with beautiful natural light from all the wells and depressions outside. Continue Reading →

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Did You Hear … ?

The gallery for this week’s “Did You Hear … ?” features interior photos from rental units at the newly built mixed-use building at 16 Cross St. in New Canaan, “The Crossing.”

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The Town Council on Wednesday night voted 12-0 in favor of an operating budget of $148,136,106 for fiscal year 2018. The overall figure and amount allocated to the Board of Education ($87,618,405) are the same as had been approved by the Board of Finance. The schools are seeing an approximately 1.6 percent year-over-year increase, while the overall operating budget is going up 2.6 percent. Continue Reading →

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