Town Seeks To Enforce Rules About Keeping Downtown Sidewalks Clear

Seeking to ensure that downtown sidewalks are clear for pedestrians, officials said last week that a Planning & Zoning officer could be assigned to enforce local rules. Under the Town Code, items such as benches, tables, chairs, signs or commercial displays cannot obstruct sight lines or pedestrian passage on sidewalks. Though the town allows for “certain things that are considered good,” merchants sometimes take advantage by going too far, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. “It’s nice to have bench and put a table out there, but four chairs around it as a display case in front of the building, it’s a little too much,” Mann said during a Jan. 29 meeting of a Planning & Zoning Commission subcommittee.

Public Works: Buildings ‘Buried’ Under Locust Lot Could Raise Cost of Repaving Project

Public works officials are seeking $500,000 for next fiscal year in order to repave the Locust Avenue Lot, a project that could cost far more depending on what the town finds at it starts to dig up the pavement. 

Thought two years ago to be right for an approximately $4 million decking job, Locust Avenue Lot will need to be taken out and replaced in one shot, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann, a project will take about two months to complete. 

The true cost won’t be known “until we get in,” Mann said during a regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen, held Tuesday at Town Hall. “We have been told the buildings that were there prior were actually knocked down and buried under the paving structure. If that’s the case, that is probably one of the reasons why the pavement is failing. This number $500,000 does not take into account if we have to go in and dig out everything that is there.”

The $500,000 request is part of a $5 million overall proposed capital spending plan for the Department of Public Works in the area of administration-and-engineering (nearly half of that total represents the town’s pavement management program). In order to find out just how much the paving project will cost, Mann said, the town needs to “dig a couple of test pits.”

“We will go forward and see if we can do some analysis, find out where the buildings were, ask some people who were around to see if they know where the buildings were buried and then go in,” he said.

Town Hires Engineering Firm To Design New Sidewalk from Mead Park Exit to Marshall Ridge Road

Town officials last week approved a $16,000 contract for survey and design services from a Bridgeport-based engineering firm for a new sidewalk to run up the hill from the exit of Mead Park toward Weed Street. About 70 families in the area signed a petition requesting the sidewalk, which will run along the south side of Richmond Hill Road up to Marshall Ridge Road, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. The town in a 2003 update to its guiding document for land use—the Plan of Conservation and Development or ‘POCD’—said it would “try to connect everyone to our greenways and to our parks,” Mann told the Board of Selectmen during its regular meeting, held Jan. 8 at Town Hall. 

“And this fits within not only the expansion of sidewalks from 2003 but also the though from the 2014 POCD to try to bring more people into the downtown area and the train station,” Mann said. First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectman Kit Devereaux voted 2-0 in favor of the contract, with Cabezas- DeAngelis Engineers & Surveyors.

Town: Failing West Road Bridge Will Need To Be Replaced

Though the town recently approved funds for temporary repairs, a failing bridge on upper West Road will need to be replaced, officials say. Located just north of the intersection at Turtle Back Road, the bridge saw its southerly headwall fail during a storm in June, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. A Newington-based consulting firm assisted with the repairs and since then, Mann said, the town additionally asked WMC Consulting Engineers “to do an analysis of the bridge and then put together a proposal.”

“We went out to the [Connecticut Department of Transportation] and were accepted for a 50 percent grant for the replacement of the bridge,” he said during a Dec. 17 meeting of the Board of Selectmen, held at Town Hall. New Canaan would pay about $921,000 toward the total $1.8 million cost to replace the bridge, he said.

‘The Bottom Fell Out’: New Canaan Sees Steep Increase in Cost of Recyclables Disposal

Saying a dramatic turn in the recyclables market is hitting the town, officials last week approved a $197,000 one-year contract with a Stamford company to haul and dispose of glass, plastic, paper and other materials discarded at the Transfer Station. The hauling of recyclables has “changed considerably in the last couple of years” due in part to a problem with glass that breaks in the single-stream system, so that where towns such as New Canaan “used to make a little bit of money,” they’re “now getting charged a lot of money to get rid of it,” according to Don Smith, assistant superintendent of solid waste with the Department of Public Works. “China is no longer taking it,” Smith told members of the Board of Selectmen at their Dec. 4 meeting, held at Town Hall. “They are just trying to find markets to get rid of it, and a lot of people don’t want it.”

The changing market is increasing New Canaan’s recycling costs by about five times, officials said.