New Canaan has wrestled for years with questions about how best to use the buildings it owns—inquiries that have evolved, in some cases, to whether or not the town should sell or even raze specific assets. With the revaluation (and diminished Grand List) bringing a renewed focus on municipal spending, town officials during this budget season and in the months that follow will make decisions that determine whether the New Canaan will continue to own some of its public buildings and, if so, how they’ll be used. In cases such as the former Outback Teen Center, those discussions are already well underway.
A follow-up to an event held last Spring, the “Forum on Public Buildings Part II”—to be held 7 to 9 p.m. (6:30 p.m. coffee) Wednesday at Town Hall—includes a diverse panel and an opportunity for attendees to share their opinions and questions.
Here are 10 reasons to go:
- Money: New Canaan’s use and ownership of the buildings under discussion goes a long way to determining maintenance costs, as well as revenues related to rentals, for years to come.
- Availability: The Forum will not be televised. [THIS HAS CHANGED—we heard today that Channel 79 has agreed to record the Public Forum and it will be available for viewing later on the Channel 79 website.]
- Panel: Panelists for this Forum represent a good cross-section of the community. They include not only members of the municipal bodies that determine how taxpayer money is spent—the Boards of Selectmen and Finance and the Town Council—but also a local builder and budget hawk.
- Timing: This Forum purposely has been scheduled ahead of budget season in order to glean public opinion on the future of municipal buildings.
- Permanence: In cases where public buildings in question may be razed or sold—for example, Vine Cottage or the Richmond Hill Garage—the town’s decisions are final.
- People: Moderators include the chairman of the Town Council, John Engel, and Tucker Murphy, a former Councilman and Board of Education member who serves as executive director of the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce.
- Brew: Free coffee from Zumbach’s.
- Talk: What transpires at the Forum will form the basis of the discussion at Thursday morning’s Community Coffee, to be held 8:30 a.m. at New Canaan Library.
- Competition: There’s nothing else interesting happening Wednesday night (Clemson already won, and “The Big Bang Theory” on CBS is a rerun).
- Preservation: Some of the buildings “in play” have significant historical value, including the Police Station, which is the 1927-built original New Canaan High School, and Vine Cottage.
The Forum on Public Buildings II is co-sponsored by the Town of New Canaan, Zumbach’s Gourmet Coffee and NewCanaanite.com.