Town Councilmen To Walk Waveny House Ahead of Vote on $2.3 Million Bonding for Roof Replacement Project

After putting off a vote last week on $2.3 million in bonding to replace the porous and crumbling roof of Waveny House, members of the town’s legislative body on Friday afternoon will walk the site with building officials to understand better the high-cost project.

The Town Council, concerned about escalating costs—it had been estimated at $1 million to $1.2 million in recent years—took up an offer from Bill Oestmann, superintendent of buildings with the New Canaan Department of Public Works, at its Jan. 18 meeting to see the damaged roof for themselves.

Though the funds had been approved by the Board of Finance with assurances that costs would be kept down as much as possible for the roof replacement, the Town Council also is concerned about “the cost listed in the 5-year capital plan to renovate the house and how the pieces fit together and what the expected results may be,” councilman Sven Englund, of the group’s Subcomiittee on Infrastructure and Utilities, told in advance of the site visit.

A total of $5 million in placeholders now are in the fluid out-years capital plan for “Waveny Roof and Renovations,” though estimates for what’s needed at the cherished 1912-built structure range up to $10 million, Englund said.

“We want to keep the house in good repair and make the upgrades needed, but also want to make sure the town gets the best outcome for the tax dollars expended,” he said.

His comments follow a meeting last week during which Oestmann described a town asset in Waveny House whose capital needs long have been neglected.

Since Ruth Lapham Lloyd transferred the property to the town a half-century ago, New Canan has “put very little dollars into the infrastructure of that building,” Oestmann said.

“So the old roof is deteriorating, the concrete is falling out, caving in and falling into the attic.”

The $2.3 million price tag is a high-end estimate, given that it includes a Department of the Interior-recommended 20 percent contingency, Oestmann said. The structure itself has a wide parapet that skirts the roof, making it possible for workers to address sections of it while Waveny continues to house some town departments and host special events such as weddings, he said.

Oestmann said he had four bids come in on the project, and that the timing of the work is important in order to secure the best contractor for the job.

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