New Canaan Nature Center

Recent Articles

‘A Magnificent Piece of our Town’: New Nature Center Executive Director Looks to Past, Future

The New Canaan Nature Center—a place where generations of local families have learned about animals, attended preschool, hiked trails and studied nature—began in 1960 for purposes of “an arboretum, bird sanctuary, nature center, horticulture, and for passive recreation,” according to a deed given to the town by Susan D. Bliss, the property’s prior owner. The deed also specified that the Nature Center would serve as “a museum site,”  newly appointed Executive Director Bill Flynn told a group of visitors this week. For Flynn, the first permanent director at the Oenoke Ridge Road facility in more than one year, part of what the Nature Center strives to do is “prove that we’re worthy of [Bliss’s] generosity.”

“This is a gift” and a “magnificent piece of our town,” Flynn said during a meet-and-greet and tour on Tuesday morning that included a talk at the Visitor’s Center and hike around the campus. A staff member at the Nature Center for seven years, Flynn is in a unique position to both appreciate the organization’s rich history while also eyeing immediate and future needs, including for its several buildings. Priorities now for Flynn include maintaining and building on a strong relationship with the town, he said, as well restoring certain buildings on campus. 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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New Canaan Promotes ‘Tech-Free Family Time’ through ’30 Days of Family’

Town and local nonprofit officials are urging New Canaan families this month to unplug their mobile devices and spend more time communicating directly with each other. The Department of Human Services-led “30 Days of Family” initiative this year has taken up “tech-free family time” as its motto. Unplugging forces family members to talk to each other “with their voices and spend quality time making eye contact and practicing listening skills,” according to Jacqueline D’Louhy, the department’s coordinator of youth and family services. “Think about how much teens ‘talk’ to each other electronically,” D’Louhy said. “Sometimes they’ll be sitting in the same room but never utter a word to one another. Continue Reading →

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New Canaan Nature Center Appoints New Executive Director

After more than one year without a permanent employee at the helm, the New Canaan Nature Center on Monday afternoon announced that a longtime staff member will take on the role of executive director. Bill Flynn, most recently the Oenoke Ridge Road organization’s director of animal care & environmental educator, starts in the leadership role following a “comprehensive search and selection process,” according to Linda Andros, president of the Nature Center’s Board of Trustees. “He’s an accomplished naturalist with excellent communication and leadership skills,” Andros said in a press release. “We are confident that he will take the Nature Center to the next level while continuing to deliver on our core values of community, education, protection and preservation.”

Flynn, a resident on the town-owned property’s campus, came to the Nature Center in 2010 following a stint as naturalist and environmental science educator in Ohio and Southern California, according to the press release. He has earned degrees in Environmental, Population and Organismic Biology and Pre-Medicine from the University of Colorado, Boulder, it said. Continue Reading →

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Did You Hear … ?

New Canaan High School took in about $47,000 at the 2016 Turkey Bowl, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi told members of the Town Council this week. ***

Originally scheduled to arrive this week, the amended zoning permit application from Grace Farms now is not expected to arrive until March 27 for review next month, officials said. ***

The Police Commission voted 3-0 on Wednesday night to approve the Pop Up Park’s proposed dates of operation for the summer of 2017—continuously, from July 16 to Sept. 4. ***

New Canaan Police Department Animal Control Officer Allyson Halm already is out of the “coyote safety kits” she put together for residents last month, and there are 24 people on a waiting list for more. Continue Reading →

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