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.

Town Offers $250,000 for Antique Valley Road House and .8 Acres Around It

Rebuffed on an earlier offer to purchase the entire parcel, the town now is offering $250,000 to the owners of an antique and prominent Valley Road home with some property around it. Funding for the acquisition and upkeep of the red-painted 18th Century house by the Grupes Reservoir at 1124 Valley Road would come through the town from the New Canaan Land Trust, according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan. 

The town in April had offered $1.2 million to the property’s owner—the First Taxing District of the Norwalk Water Department—for the house and entire 4-acre parcel there, but that offer was rejected. During a press briefing Thursday, Moynihan said the property owner had offered to sell the house and .83 acres for $900,000, “which is absurd,” he said. “The idea that this could be anywhere north of $250,000 is absurd, especially when it has unique characteristics,” Moynihan said during the briefing, held in his office at Town Hall. “Nobody could build there.”
The $250,000 figure is based on a recent appraisal, Moynihan said.

First Selectman: Plans Underway To Rent Out Irwin House to Nonprofit Organizations

Irwin House, the 1963-built brick structure that sits on a hilltop in a public Weed Street park of the same name, is to be renovated and rented out to a handful of nonprofit organizations seeking new homes, the town’s highest elected official says. Vacant since the municipal offices that had occupied it during the renovation and expansion of Town Hall moved out three years ago, Irwin House would see its first floor used as a “nonprofit center,” according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan. The organizations expected to move in and pay a below-market rent so that the town covers its maintenance and utility costs would include Staying Put in New Canaan, New Canaan Community Foundation, New Canaan Land Trust and New Canaan CARES, Moynihan told reporters during a press briefing held Aug. 23 in his office. 

“The idea would be that they would have the synergy of being not-for-profits together rather than isolated in little offices,” he said. “They’d share conference space, they’d share a lunchroom.

First Selectman: Town May Need To Help Fund Purchase of Antique Valley Road House

New Canaan taxpayers may need to help fund the purchase of a Valley Road parcel that includes a well-known 18th Century house, the town’s highest elected official said this week. Owned by the First Taxing District of Norwalk Water Department, the red-painted house by the Grupes Reservoir at 1124 Valley Road and 4-acre property it sits on for years has been intently pursued by preservationists and open space advocates in New Canaan. During a discussion Tuesday about New Canaan’s need to decide just which old buildings in town it wants to save, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan noted that the New Canaan Land Trust has offered $1.2 toward acquiring the property. “I am still working aggressively to try to save the ‘Grupes House’ on Valley Road,” Moynihan said during a regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen, held at Town Hall. “That may require some town funding, if we are going to participate with partners who are putting up over $1 million to try to preserve that, really one of oldest houses in New Canaan.”

Long aware of the property, which abuts the the 10.3-acre Browne Wildlife Sanctuary, Land Trust officials and preservationists have been trying to figure out a way to acquire and protect the property since it hit the market three years ago at $2.25 million.