Rich Townsend

Recent Articles

Town Council Mulls Development of Long-Term Plan for Budgeting

To aid in the budget process moving forward, the town government may soon be adopting a long-term financial plan (LTFP) which will essentially serve as a forecasting tool. Following the unanimous vote on the final, $151 million fiscal 2018-2019 town budget on Thursday at town hall, the New Canaan Town Council discussed a preliminary document outlining what the proposed five-year plan would include, which was drafted by vice chairman Rich Townsend. The purpose of the plan, as per the draft document, is to “provide all the town funded units the opportunity to participate in setting the financial assumptions and goals for the town” over a five year period. Basically, it would require all town departments and the Board of Education to furnish a five-year forecast including future costs, revenues, goals and needs to the Board of Finance before the budget process commences. “When we went through the budget, there were a lot of things that everybody wanted to do that would help us save money and help us work better with all the other organizations [in town],” Townsend explained after introducing the draft document. Continue Reading →

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Seeking More Info, Town Council Hits Pause on $1 Million Request for Waveny House

As a member of two committees that have studied the physical plant and uses of Waveny House, Christa Kenin said she’s sat through many brainstorming sessions regarding the 1912 public building. It’s been imagined as a future home for the Board of Education and a conference center, among other uses, Kenin told fellow Town Council members at their regular meeting Wednesday night. There’s been “no shortage of good ideas,” she said, yet right now Waveny House is in a “holding pattern.”

“And unfortunately, it is low-revenue-generating, and so for that reason I am not motivated to throw any money at it right now,” Kenin said as the legislative body discussed a capital funding request from the Department of Public Works for $1 million to install an elevator at Waveny House and accessible routes and bathrooms on the second floor in order to make it ADA-compliant at long last. “I don’t think it’s ‘Do this or shut it down,’ ” Kenin continued at the meeting, held in Town Hall. “I am more in favor of let’s take people off of the second floor, save $1 million, because that will kind of push us to actually make some decisions and this is long overdue for the ADA. Continue Reading →

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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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