The town on Thursday took a step toward demolishing the ‘Mead Park Brick Barn’ by putting out a formal request for bids from companies to raze the widely discussed structure, New Canaan’s highest elected official said. The bids are due back Oct. 18, Kevin Moynihan said during a press briefing held Thursday morning at Town Hall. “This is very ministerial at this point,” he said.
The Brick Barn is slated for demolition Oct. 23, after the town issued a 90-day delay in August.
The Mead Park Brick Barn debate should focus on New Canaan taxpayers. Should we underwrite the cost of preserving the Barn in perpetuity? Most would say no.
The New Canaan Preservation Alliance claims that its September 12 proposal “Eliminates all Town costs related to [the] Barn.” That’s what taxpayers want to hear. But the claim would be true only if the State of Connecticut continues grant and tax credit programs at current levels for several years, if the State approves the full amount of NCPA submissions in each of three consecutive years, and if private donations are sufficient to defray any short-term and long-term maintenance costs not funded by the State.
Selectman Kit Devereaux on Tuesday called for the town to halt the planned demolition of the structure known as the “Mead Park Brick Barn” on Richmond Hill Road.
While many in town, including Devereaux herself, are “not necessarily attached to the building,” she said, “I have huge regard for the [New Canaan] Preservation Alliance.”
“And I think if they have got a plan and they want to move forward with this, we can save $65,000 and we can honor an important organization,” Devereaux said at the Board of Selectmen’s regular meeting, held in Town Hall, referring to the estimated cost of demolition. “It has been standing there for over 100 years. I do not understand what a year or two more will matter.”
As of now, the Brick Barn—or “Richmond Hill garage,” as it alternately is known—is slated for demolition Oct. 23. The town on July 14 applied to demolish the 1911-built structure on the northern edge of Mead Park where Standard Oil’s horse-drawn delivery wagons used to fill containers for fuel delivery in New Canaan.
The pending demolition of the Mead Park Brick Barn has drawn polarizing reactions from the community—while preservationists advocate for its historical and cultural value, at least some of those who favor its razing live in the long-vacant building’s immediate area. Amy Wilkinson lives in the townhouse off of Richmond Hill, and said she is “very much anticipating the demolition of the structure” and is “very happy it is finally going to happen. The building is “an eyesore” for residents and “doesn’t have a particular function and it hasn’t for a long time,” she told NewCanaanite on a recent afternoon. According to Sandy Kelly, a relative newcomer tof Richmond Hill Road, the decaying structure has not been actively preserved and has attracted “delinquent behaviors” in some cases. Wilkinson confirmed that there is “a tendency for people to hang out around here.”
According to Chris Orelup of Richmond Hill Road has described the building as an “eyesore” and noted that demolishing up with open up the neighborhood to “an uninterrupted view of Mead Park from Richmond Hill and Grove that will be lovely.”
“I believe that the vast majority of those who actually live in the neighborhood will be very glad to have it gone,” Orelup said.
Days after New Canaan’s highest elected official dismissed a bid to preserve a long-vacant town-owned structure on Richmond Hill Road, a resident seeking to stave off demolition has filed a formal objection to that end. Mimi Findlay, a founder of the New Canaan Preservation Alliance, in a letter filed with the town’s chief building official, reviews the history of the “Mead Park Brick Barn” and makes a case for its historical and architectural significance.
Under the Town Code, the volunteer Historical Review Committee will study the matter and, if that panel finds that the structure “is of historical, architectural or cultural significance to the Town of New Canaan,” it can force a 90-day delay on the demolition from the date of the demo permit application.
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said that application went into the town last week.
The question of whether to demolish the building has come before the town in the past, and has stirred high emotion on both sides. The question of whether to demolish the Mead Park Brick Barn—or “Richmond Hill Garage,” as it has been called—has divided the town for many years. Though the town did vote in favor of razing the building—records show that demolition permits had been issued in April 2009 and August 2010—doing so proved to be cost-prohibitive due to the need for asbestos and lead paint remediation, sending the estimated cost of demolition to about $400,000. Then a new, far smaller figure of $65,000 emerged during last budget season.