I would like to comment on your recent story regarding the Mead Park Barn. I would like to talk about a “P” word and that word is not ‘Preservation,’ it’s ‘Process.’ Although the concept is less glamorous, it warrants its own respect. I so appreciate all of the New Canaan Preservation Alliance’s hard work and their passion. However, we must deal with the facts before us. Last week, the Board of Selectmen was incorrect to table the demolition contract.
Happy Childhood memories of growing up in New Canaan. This is what comes through during interviews with two long-time residents of New Canaan on the topic of Mead Park and the little brick building perched on its northern border.
So much controversy circles about this building that there is not even consensus about its name. Cassia Besson Ward said the official name in her memory was the Park Maintenance Building, but frequently refers to it as the “Brick House.”
She grew up in the little grey house across the street and shared, most unexpectedly, this watercolor of a winter skating scene. Besson Ward said she has fond memories of growing up with Mead Park as her front yard, playing with her sister and other children in the streams, making houses out of pine needles behind the “Brick House” and even staging an amateur “Greek Pageant” in the park.
Painted by her father, John Case Besson, the watercolor includes specific individuals from her childhood. Cassia and her sister are depicted with a sled, one riding, the other pulling.
The municipal body that by Town Charter would need to approve contracts related to the demolition of a widely discussed building at the northern edge of Mead Park remains divided about whether or not to support a nonprofit organization’s efforts to restore it. During their regular meeting last week, members of the Board of Selectmen heard from two members of the New Canaan Preservation Alliance. The organization is requesting that the ‘Notice of Demolition’ sign be removed from the ‘Mead Park Brick Barn,’ to be allowed to spruce up the abandoned Richmond Hill Road (with some outdoor cleanup and a wreath) and to get feedback on a proposed lease agreement.
Yet at the close of the Dec. 4 meeting, when Selectman Kit Devereaux asked for information on where the town stands with respect to the NCPA, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said that the organization cannot make a request of the selectmen through a meeting’s public comment period. Selectman Nick Williams called the NCPA’s offer “generous.”
“I don’t think it has any bearing on demo or not demoing,” Williams said at the meeting, held in Town Hall.
Though the Town Council on Wednesday night once again raised the specter of the “Mead Park Brick Barn” and its pending demolition, some members of the legislative body said their ongoing discussion only offers the false hope that it can be spared the wrecking ball. During a meeting attended by preservationists who have been working for months on a plan to preserve the century-old structure on Richmond Hill Road, Councilman Tom Butterworth noted that the Council already voted on an appropriation of demo funds, and said the difficulty in having a meaningful conversations now is that the “process” of municipal government is underway.
“We have a process in our government and if you want to look at what the implications of that are, look at the people here tonight that we are misleading by having this discussion,” Butterworth said at the meeting, held in Town Hall.
“It’s fine for us: We have no skin in the game on this anymore. We voted. We are done. If somebody can come up with a way to revive this issue and put it in some way so that the Town Council has jurisdiction, please bring it on.
Without specifying just how it would happen, New Canaan’s highest elected official said Thursday that the century-old brick structure at the northern edge of Mead Park—a former fuel depot that historic preservationists want to save while others want to raze—will be demolished. Referring vaguely to “a process” regarding what preservationists call the “Mead Park Brick Barn,” First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said during a press briefing in his office at Town Hall that “it’s going to play out and then the building is going to come down.”
The most recent town body to weigh in on the future of what has also been called the “Richmond Hill Garage,” the Planning & Zoning Commission, voted unanimously at its Oct. 30 meeting to “abandon” the building—checking off a box required by state law in cases where a municipality divests itself of real property. Yet P&Z’s vote appears to have no bearing on a separate decision that falls to the Board of Selectmen—namely, to approve the contracts for a company to physically knock the building down and cart away its remains. The selectmen during their Oct.