On behalf of The New Canaan Board of Realtors I am writing to you today in support of the proposed new library for our town. The Realtor community feels strongly that the new library will be an integral part of our downtown, attracting new buyers to our community, and will lead to an increase in home values. This public space will attract people from all over the country and surrounding communities which will provide additional revenue for our local businesses. More than 1,000 people utilize the library each day in its current outdated condition which can no longer support the needs of our citizens. The new library will serve everyone from our young children, to teens, to the elderly. The mid-century design will further enhance the beauty of our downtown. As Realtors, the library will be a huge selling feature when we can share with prospective buyers all the library will offer from literary events, to concerts, to cooking classes, to children’s events and so much more. We are the last town among all of the surrounding communities to have a new library. We cannot be left behind. This initiative is vitally important for us to remain competitive in attracting buyers to our community and to assuring that our current citizens remain in New Canaan.
In recognition of our support for this project, The New Canaan Board of Realtors in conjunction with the Major Real Estate Firms in town will financially underwrite the Library’s DaVinci Exhibit exclusive opening night event for the Realtor community on February 28th.This exhibit is an extraordinary example of the way the library enhances our community and culture.
President, New Canaan Board of Realtors
Dear Mr. Dinan, Editor, New Canaanite
I am proud to write in support of the New Canaan Library renovation project. As members of the New Canaan community for 17 years, our family has fully enjoyed the extensive collection and services of our wonderful town Library. I have fond memories of bringing my toddler to reading hour. Now that toddler is a 21 year-old English major. When I recall the afternoons spent at the Library and the piles of books she cheerfully checked out, I see a clear connection between the New Canaan Library her love of literature.
These days, I have a busy relationship with the Library via online book borrowing and I enjoy a variety of lectures and the annual literary luncheon. I have seen the plans for the renovation and I am eager to see it come to life. Clearly the Library renovation will not only enhance the physical building, it will serve everyone in New Canaan, from the very young to the very old. And with the new building in place, the Library will finally be able to give all members of the community the services and programs that they have made clear that they need and will use.
Also, the new Library design will add a “town green” to the business district. I feel confident this will add a boost to the local economy as well as serve as an attractive feature for prospective homebuyers. And the project is timely given that we are the last of local peer communities to renovate our Library. In fact many of our peers are on their second and third renovations, while the New Canaan Library has not been touched since 1979.
I believe the proposed design is what a town library should be – a bright, safe and stimulating place with a variety of spaces to allow all members of the community to learn, share and grow. I appreciate the important role a library plays as the cultural and intellectual core of a community. And I am very thankful for the role the New Canaan Library has played in my family’s life.
I urge all members of our community, and in particular the Board of Finance, the Town Council and the Board of Selectmen, to support the New Canaan Library renovation project. It is well conceived and designed, and will serve the community today and far into the future.
As you ponder this request for funding for a new library, please keep in mind the existing historic library is a town landmark, a real treasure. In the 2009 National Historic Resources Inventory Form, the architectural consultant wrote:
“This is a handsome Neo-Classical Revival style public library building whose original section has been added to with modern additions. The historic building incorporates a nine-bay façade with a full tetra-style Doric portico incorporating a semi-circular lunette in the pediment and a series of dentils and Greek key motifs under the eaves. The original main entrance is beneath the portico and features an entry door with sidelights above which is a blind arch infilled with red brick. Fenestration is flat-topped, with brick sills and lintels, multi-light sash, and stylized Palladian motifs.
Architect: Alfred Taylor, New York, lived on Ponus Ridge
Designed 1911; Construction 1913.
Historical or Architectural Importance: Of paramount significance to the educational heritage of the community, this has served as the community library since it was built. Architecturally, it represents the work of architect Alfred Taylor and is an outstanding local example of the Neo-Classical Revival style as it was applied to secular institutional architecture during the twentieth century.”
I encourage you to take this letter to the Library, enter from Main Street, and see the architectural details listed in the first paragraph quoted, for an architectural history lesson!
Recently, an historic architectural consultant toured the interior and found the Salant Room the “best preserved public space in New Canaan”.
Could that interior room and the front façade be incorporated into the new library, to make a gracious and beautiful income-producing “Event” space? An experienced preservation architect would know how to do it, so I propose one be allowed to examine the 1913 walls and, if possible, its foundation.
That would probably save money, as the costs of demolition and disposal of the original historic structure are not insignificant. More design work by a preservation-trained architect needs to be considered in order to preserve this part of the historic building, and not just scrape it away for open space, of which there is plenty across the street.
I have been a resident of New Canaan for about 22 years. As a full-time trial lawyer, I have traveled throughout the state representing municipalities in various types of litigation. My wife Kerry is a realtor and nursery school teacher here in New Canaan. During my decades in town, I’ve parented three children through our public school system, coached them along with hundreds of other children in various youth sports. I have sat on and helped organize numerous non-profit boards including Staying Put, Voices of 9-11 and many youth sports boards. I have been an elected member of the Republican Town Committee (2000-2005), the Town Council (2005-2012) and as one of your State Representatives (2013-2020). As a result of the aforementioned experiences, I believe I have a good understanding of the wants and needs of the town.
I can state without hesitation that this public/private library project will be the most important investment in our town since Waveny and it will be our most utilized asset for the next fifty years.
As a result of the tough real estate market for the foreseeable future, now more than ever, we are in competition with Westport, Darien and Greenwich for commuters and homebuyers in Fairfield County. Each of the aforementioned towns have a brand new or newly renovated library in addition to a shoreline and faster train service. We need to invest in public assets that will enhance our desirability for homebuyers coming into Fairfield County.
Everyone agrees we need a new library. The only question is how much of a public investment can we afford? I will not identify all the benefits of the new library here as many others will do so at tonight’s meeting. What I would like to impart on you is my firm support for the project and state, without hesitation, that each home in New Canaan will benefit dramatically from this new library, both from an increase in home value and from a quality of life perspective. This new library is transformational for our wonderful community and I urge your support for the entire project as it will enhance our community well beyond the financial commitment being requested.
Very truly yours,
Thomas P. O’Dea Jr.
125th House District