Rich Townsend

Recent Articles

Town: Former Outback Building Will Not Serve as Home to Alternative High School; Market Value of Building To Be Gauged

The former Outback Teen Center downtown is off the table at this point as a possible future home for an “alternative high school” program envisioned by the school district, the town’s highest elected official said Tuesday. In order to maximize the value of the shuttered, centrally located building, New Canaan first must find out whether it can be rented or sold, according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan. “And in order to do that, you have to expose it to the market,” Moynihan told NewCanaanite.com following a full day’s worth of meetings on the fiscal year 2019 budget, which now moves to the Board of Finance. Moynihan said the decision was informed by a committee of the Town Council. Members of the Council’s Education Committee, and Moynihan himself, met Jan. Continue Reading →

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Town Council Members Mull Using ‘Outback’ Building To House Alternative High School Program

The superintendent of schools on Wednesday night presented a subcommittee of New Canaan’s legislative body with details of a proposal to create an “alternative high school” program for students with specific health challenges in New Canaan to be housed at the former Outback Teen Center behind Town Hall. Dr. Bryan Luizzi and Assistant Superintendent of Pupil and Family Services Darlene Pianka outlined their vision for a program to replace New Canaan High School’s current Afternoon Instructional Program, or ‘AIP,’ which is held in the school’s media center. AIP is currently only available to four to 10 upperclassmen at a time, while Luizzi’s proposal will potentially provide full- or half-day instruction for six to 12 students in grades 8-12 based on their educational and therapeutic needs, they told members of the Town Council’s Education Committee. The idea of locating the alternative high school at Outback had been broached with a town committee in November and the program itself was presented to the Board of Education on Monday as part of the approximately $90.7 million proposed budget for New Canaan Public Schools next year. Throughout Luizzi and Pianka’s presentation, Education Committee members Tom Butterworth, Rich Townsend, Joe Paladino and Christa Kenin raised questions about the potential costs of the program and the suitability of the Outback as the program’s physical site. Continue Reading →

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‘A Failure of Town Leadership’: Audit Committee Critical of How NCHS Fields Projects Unfolded

Though the donors and volunteers who gave time, money and energy to the partially completed fields projects at New Canaan High School deserve sincere thanks, the town also saw failures on multiple levels that led to undisclosed cost overruns, the chairman of the Audit Committee said Wednesday night. There were “adequate controls in place which should have helped avoid the issues and surprises that we had,” Bill Parrett told members of the Town Council during their regular meeting. “This is really important to understand, because if there were not adequate controls, we would have had material weaknesses from an accounting standpoint and having material weaknesses from an accounting standpoint would be very difficult to rectify in a short period. It looks to us that the issues are more about bad management—possibly waste—versus poor controls. There was a failure of town leadership, department leadership, boards, committees and councils, in our judgment.”

He spoke during an update for the Council on the Audit Committee’s review of how the projects at NCHS—rebuilding of a turf field, creation of two more and total overhaul of the track—came to cost New Canaan an estimated $800,000 more than originally thought. Continue Reading →

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Kevin Moynihan Wins New Canaan First Selectman Race by 33 Votes [UPDATED]

Kevin Moynihan, a longtime resident and community volunteer who has served for four years on the Town Council, won election to New Canaan’s top municipal office on Tuesday by 33 votes. The Republican earned 2,684 votes in a widely anticipated first selectman race against Democrat Kit Devereaux, who received 2,651 votes, according to figures supplied by the New Canaan Registrars of Voters. The .6 percent margin of victory —a math-defying outcome, given the party makeup of New Canaan’s electorate—narrowly beats the state-mandated recount figure of .5 percent. Moynihan said he felt “wonderful” though “we expected to do better, quite honestly.” “I am surprised it was so close,” he told NewCanaanite.com. Continue Reading →

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NewCanaanite.com Endorsements for Town Council

Seven candidates—four Republicans and three Democrats—are vying for six Town Council seats that are up for election on Tuesday. For reasons listed below, I am endorsing three Republicans—John Engel, Rich Townsend and Tom Butterworth—and three Democrats—Sven Englund, Colm Dobbyn and Liz Donovan. Two candidates, incumbents Engel and Englund, most clearly have earned re-election to the legislative body. Engel is an insightful, articulate councilman who brings a singular perspective as a lifelong resident, community volunteer, open space advocate, parent and Realtor. His also is a common-sense voice in a body that can be derailed by overreach and politicking. Continue Reading →

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