‘Do We Want Our Town To Look Like That?’: Officials Eye Illegal Signs in New Canaan [UPDATED]

[Editor’s Note: A reference to sign enforcement was removed at the request of a participant in the meeting.]

As new types of signs pop up on residential properties and throughout the downtown, including many that are prohibited by local zoning regulations, town officials say New Canaan must make a conscious decision about whether to be more lax about them. Members of the town’s legislative body say they’re receiving calls about proliferating lawn signs, from those promoting sports teams such as New Canaan Squash and New Canaan Football, to events such as Lobsterfest. “Technically they are against our ordinance,” Town Councilman Steve Karl said at a recent meeting of the body’s Bylaws and Ordinances Committee, which he co-chairs. “In the old days, [Planning & Zoning] had a sign police that would say, ‘Hey that’s an illegal sign,’ ” Karl said at the Oct. 1 meeting, held in Town Hall.

Parks Officials Propose Raising User Fees at Spencer’s Run

Saying it would generate an additional $9,000 in revenue, parks officials said this month that they’re planning to propose higher fees for those who use the dog run at Waveny. An early version of the new slate would see the annual registration fee for a first dog at Spencer’s Run go from $25 to $40 for residents and $40 to $60 for nonresidents, while the fee for additional dogs would rise from $15 to $25, according to the Parks & Recreation Commission. Chair Sally Campbell said the Commission could vote on the proposed higher rates at its next meeting and that they would go into effect after next year’s budget season. “The point is that these are quite low and there is a lot of maintenance that needs to be done in the park and it’s supposed to be the people who go to the park are the ones who are supposed to be the ones funding the repairs through fees,” Campbell said at the April 11 meeting, held at Lapham Community Center. There are 843 members of Spencer’s Run and just over half of them are nonresidents, according to Commissioner Rona Siegel.

Officials Consider Installing Cameras in Irwin Park To Catch Irresponsible Dog Owners

While the New Canaan Police Department cannot spare an officer to patrol Irwin Park exclusively, authorities are recommending use of motion-activated trail cameras to help catch irresponsible dog owners who don’t pick up after their pets, officials said Wednesday night. According to Sally Campbell, chair of the Parks & Recreation Commission, video footage that matches dog owners with their cars would be the “best way” to identify violators. Police have “asked us to explore with IT what time of camera to use and the only a type of camera we are able to use is a game camera,” Campbell said during the commission’s regular meeting, held at Lapham Community Center. “So we acquired a few of those and are trying to figure out how to best use them.”

The comments come as the commission explores ways to address a nasty problem at Irwin Park—as well as Waveny, among other public places—where people with dogs do not pick up after the animals. The commission formed a committee to work on the problem.

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.

‘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.