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.
New Canaan High School students last week voiced support for a widely discussed proposed ordinance that would prevent local retailers from using thin plastic bags.
Though the NCHS Student Coalition typically sticks to tasks such as “planning Homecoming and our annual prom, we recently decided to come off the sidelines and begin discussing this,” the group’s president, senior Chase Pellegrini de Paur, told members of the town’s legislative body during a public hearing Feb. 6.
“And while I can’t speak for every student at the high school, I can speak to my own experience in the Coalition talking about this,” Pellegrini de Paur said during the Town Council Bylaws and Ordinances Committee meeting, held at Town Hall. “Because when we began discussing this issue, I thought we would have a passionate debate with fiery arguments on both sides. But instead, there was this attitude of eerily quiet confusion. It wasn’t that students didn’t care about the issue, but rather that they were confused by the opposition to an ordinance like this.
Saying it’s punitive, unnecessary and unsanitary and represents government overreach, some New Canaan residents are voicing opposition to a proposed ban on thin plastic bags at local shops.
Though members of New Canaan’s legislative body say most constituents who have lodged their opinions in formal letters are in favor a single-use plastic bag ban, others have been critical of the proposal. Jeanne Russo in a letter to the Town Council said that such bans often have “unintended negative results.”
“Expecting senior citizens or lower income families to buy reusable bags, so some in our community can feel good about themselves by ‘doing their part,’ is unfair and wrong,” Russo wrote. “You represent all members in our community, not just the ones with loud voices.”
Town resident Nicole Busby said that while she’s in favor of people bringing reusable bags with them to local shops, she’s opposed to an outright ban on plastic bags because “it’s an overreach of government.”
Scott Hobbs in a letter to the Council said that while single-use plastic bags may seem wasteful, “they are all sanitary.”
“Recycled bags frequently get contaminated from use with food and most people do not properly maintain them,” he said. “In addition, if you look at the chemicals, water and time involved in properly maintaining the reusable bags, it is likely that they cost more and are at least closer to as harmful to the environment. Please do not pass such a resolution.”
The comments come as the Town Council Bylaws and Ordinance Committee considers draft legislation (see it here in full) that would prohibit retailers from supplying double-handled carryout bags to customers.
Members of New Canaan’s legislative body said last week that they need more information and public input prior to committing an estimated $400,000 to a renovation of Irwin House as a base of operations for local nonprofit organizations.
Though rent from three nonprofit organizations that have shown an interest in relocating to the Irwin Park house would come to about $46,500—exceeding the annual cost of maintenance—the town first must gauge whether taxpayers would prefer to tear the structure down, members of the Town Council said during their regular meeting. Chairman John Engel said the three nonprofits interested in moving to the Weed Street property—New Canaan Land Trust, New Canaan Community Foundation and Staying Put in New Canaan—also should have an opportunity say how important such a move would be for them, what alternatives they’ve seen and how hard it is to find a workable space. Councilman Penny Young said, “There really are a lot of questions. This is indeed the cart before the horse. I mean way before horse.”
The comments came as the Town Council discussed a possible investment of $80,000 for architectural, engineering and other services that would be needed prior to the physical renovation work.
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.