First Selectman Rob Mallozzi says that for years, he has admired and appreciated the “Welcome” signs that often greet motorists pulling off of roads such as the Merritt Parkway and crossing from one municipality to another in Connecticut and elsewhere.
“I thought to myself that New Canaan is the most welcoming community I know—why don’t we have one?” Mallozzi said.
We may, soon enough.
Town planning officials on Tuesday approved a proposal to install a DOT-approved, 4.5-foot-high “Welcome to New Canaan” sign at two entrances to the town (not far from the southbound off-ramps of Exits 37 and 38 on the Merritt).
Tiger Mann, assistant director of the Department of Public Works, unveiled the signs at the Planning & Zoning Commission’s regular meeting, held in the Douglas Room at Lapham Community Center.
“As it stands right now, each one of these areas is already maintained by the Beautification League, so it’s already been planted, it’s already nice and established, and we’d be looking to plant that sign behind the initial plantings,” Mann said.
P&Z approved the plan 7-0. Mann will get a quote from a sign-maker and then seek approval for the purchase at the Sept. 9 Board of Selectmen meeting, with an eye on installing the signs as soon as they come in.
Mallozzi said that after landing on the idea, he brought in key stakeholders to develop the concept and plan. He opened up talks with local nonprofit groups that pay attention to the “little things” that often make a big difference in town—such as the New Canaan Garden Club and New Canaan Beautification League—and brought in local experts for input, including Janet Lindstrom of the New Canaan Historical Society, Tucker Murphy of the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce and Selectman Nick Williams.
The first selectman credited Mann for running with the project once it came to him, adding that August affords opportunities to pursue projects that may not get finished otherwise.
It isn’t clear yet just where a sign would go along Route 106 as you pull off of the Merritt’s exit 36, Mallozzi said, but that he’s eager to “complete the triumvirate” of New Canaan’s parkway exits.
Lindstrom said she thought the signs were “wonderful” because “they are a renewal of an old tradition where we did have ‘Welcome to New Canaan’ signs on every road entering New Canaan and over the years they have all disappeared.”
The wooden signs, whose dimensions and specifics such as lettering require approval from the state (they’ll be planted within state a road right-of-way at 123, 124 and 106) and have a matte rather than glossy finish, Mann said.