Neil Budnick

Recent Articles

‘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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Newly Appointed Town Building Committee Elects Officers, Sets Priorities

A committee charged with evaluating the uses, condition and future needs of town-owned buildings decided Monday to start its work by figuring out what data points it must have to conduct an analysis and make recommendations. Ultimately, the work of the Town Building Evaluation and Use Committee is expected to help officials prioritize taxpayer funding for competing capital projects—a job made more difficult without a basis for comparison, according to Amy Murphy Carroll, a committee member elected as co-chair of the group during its first meeting. “There is a lot of information for all these buildings,” Carroll said during the meeting, held in a board room at Town Hall. “What I am seeing is that we have all these buildings—the Nature Center and whatever—but I don’t feel we have a good sense of how they are used.”

With institutional knowledge and documentation from Department of Public Works officials in hand—such as each building’s operating expenses and an estimation of future capital needs—two-person “teams” from within the seven-member committee could made field visits to the various structures and collect all the desired information, Carroll said. “So then we have ‘This is the state of our building,’ This is what it needs,’ ‘This is how we use it’ and ‘This is how the town uses it,’ ” she said. Continue Reading →

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Selectmen Appoint Committee To Study Uses and Capital Needs of New Canaan’s Public Buildings

Town officials on Tuesday dissolved a volunteer committee tasked one year ago with studying New Canaan’s use of Waveny House and appointed what amounts to a successor group that will carry out the same work but more broadly, evaluating and making recommendations on a number of public buildings. The Board of Selectmen during a regular meeting voted 3-0 to form the Town Building Evaluation and Use Committee “to evaluate over a six-month period the uses, physical condition and future capital needs” of structures such as the former Teen Center, Vine Cottage and Irwin Park main house. The newly appointed group will “not have to start from scratch” because enough studies are “in the book to lay the groundwork,” First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. “It’s important that we look at it holistically and everything is on the table. If there is a use that isn’t fitting for a certain building, we will take input from them. Continue Reading →

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‘The Community Is Behind It’: Finance Board Votes 8-0 in Favor of $475,000 for New Canaan Library As Rebuilding Project Nears

Calling New Canaan Library a vital community hub whose new building will benefit the town in numerous ways, finance officials on Tuesday night unanimously supported a proposed $475,000 special appropriation for the organization. Approved 8-0 by the Board of Finance at the group’s regular meeting, the funds are designed to help the library acquire a key property on its block and trigger a widely anticipated capital campaign. Purchasing the .19-acre property at 48 South Ave., currently the site of a rented multifamily dwelling, “is critical to any plans the library might have, because not only does it complete the campus footprint but setback rules would make other properties that they have acquired useless for construction purposes and limit their use for parking spaces,” finance board member Chris LeBris said during the meeting, held at Town Hall. “So the entrance to town—instead of having a nice new library building—would be, essentially, several blocks of parking as you drive down South Avenue, so for the town aesthetics there is a reason to do this.”

The appropriation still requires the approval of the Town Council, which meets next week. Conceived by town leaders after library officials said during budget discussions last fiscal year that they would go forward with their rebuilding plans even without it, the appropriation has received wide community support, finance board member said. Continue Reading →

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