Stone Wall Building Workshop with the New Canaan Land Trust

Join us on Saturday, February 9th from 8am to noon as we work with local stonemason, Greg Faillaci, to rebuild the historic stone wall in front of the Hicks Meadow. Participants will learn the art of dry stone wall construction while helping to restore collapsed sections of the wall, located across from 514 Silvermine Road. We have limited space, and the workshop is weather dependent, so please RSVP to info@newcanaanlandtrust.org to confirm your spot.

Town Pursues Acquisition of Valley Road Property by Eminent Domain

Reigniting an effort that dates back to this spring, New Canaan’s highest elected official said this week that the town is seeking to acquire a vacant antique home on Valley Road by eminent domain. The town, with a funding commitment from a local nonprofit organization, had offered to acquire the four-acre parcel at 1124 Valley Road, including a prominent red-painted house, for $1.2 million. But the property’s owner, Norwalk’s First Taxing District, rejected that offer. After applying for a demolition permit and then withdrawing it, the Taxing District later rejected the town’s offer to purchase just the house with .8 acres carved out around it, for $250,000—a figure New Canaan had arrived at following an appraisal of the property. Now, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said, “We intend to proceed with our plan to acquire the property by our power of eminent domain.”

“They don’t need the property for water company purposes, they disrespect the house which is over 200 years old and various groups—the Historical Society, the Preservation Alliance—various town bodies want to see that house preserved and that neighborhood preserved,” Moynihan told members of local press during a media briefing Wednesday in his office at Town Hall.

Did You Hear … ?

New Canaan High School’s former assistant food director, Marie Wilson, appeared Wednesday in state Superior Court in Stamford before Judge Richard Comerford in connection with the felony larceny charges in what has become known as the “lunch ladies” case. An attorney representing Wilton said she’s still in the discovery phase of the case, and the matter was continued to Nov. 27. No formal plea has been entered on Wilson’s behalf. Her sister, Joanne Pascarelli, who had overseen the food services program at Saxe Middle School, has pleaded not guilty.

Valley Road Homeowners Reject Town’s Offer for Historic House

The owners of an antique house on Valley Road have rejected the town’s offer to purchase the home and some of the land around it, officials said last week. 

Instead, the First Taxing District of the Norwalk Water Department will have a caretaker stay at the red-painted 18th Century house at 1124 Valley Road to use it as an “operational base” for work at the adjacent Grupes Reservoir, according to Conservation Commission member Chris Schipper. “They plan to use the house in connection with the water business, so they do not intend to sell it as this time, and I guess that from our perspective that simply defers a decision,” Schipper said during the Commission’s regular meeting, held Oct. 11 at Town Hall. “The only thing that we should be alert to, if they are not maintaining the property, is the risk of demolition by dereliction.”

He added: “The good news its is no longer on the demolition queue. The bad news is it is sort of in abeyance.

Op-Ed: Celebrating Bristow Bird Sanctuary and Wildwood Preserve

My wife Joan and I have lived in this extraordinary town of New Canaan for 50 years. I am, like my father before me, a dedicated birder. I guess you could say I was born a birder, since my very earliest memory was my dad entering the bedroom I shared with my older brother, whispering in my ear at 5:15 a.m. on a lovely spring morning saying, “Come on Philly, wake up, the day’s a wasting, and you and I are going birding.” Off we would go, me perched high up on his shoulders, into the woods that surrounded our neighborhood. 

The instructions were always the same and quite simple—no whining, we are going to have fun today, no noise, just look and listen as I point out all the magnificent birds of the forest. All the songbirds and yes, their predators too, the hawks and owls and other birds of prey. He would suddenly stop—pull on my right leg and and whisper, “Listen up: that’s a Rose Breasted Grosbeak and over there is a Veery.” Then a pull on the left leg as he excitedly exclaimed, “Oh, there’s a Wood Thrush and look at that Pileated Woodpecker!”

From these earliest experiences you can see that I became hooked on birding.