‘A Potential Signature Change for the Town’: P&Z Opens New Canaan Library Rebuilding Application

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An overhead view of the proposed new library. Specs by Turner

New Canaan Library through many early design iterations sought to include the original 1913 building, the organization’s executive director said last week.

Yet in acquiring an adjacent South Avenue property in 2017, opening up new possibilities for the best possible design, as well as a fundraising feasibility study “and a careful assessment of the functional needs for the building and grounds, the design could no longer incorporate the original facade into the building within these parameters,” Lisa Oldham told members of the Planning & Zoning Commission during their regular meeting.

“The library then began to explore how it might retain the original structure, freestanding on-site,” Oldham said during the March 30 meeting, held via videoconference. “Several options for relocating it on the green were explored. In weighing these options, the library considered the following: First, the cost to rebuild the structure. The library sought estimates from several companies to preserve the viable remnants of the original library. Specifically, the front section and the east- and north-facing walls. And then to rebuild the whole at a reasonable standard of quality. These estimates have been updated with current pricing and information, and they’ve also been sent to a third-party for peer review. The estimates for this 1,300-square-foot building are around $3 million, plus significant additional costs due to contamination issues.”

She addressed P&Z during a 4.5-hour meeting dominated by the library’s multiple applications for site and Special Permit approval as well as text changes to the New Canaan Zoning Regulations and an attendant zoning boundary change. The building is expected to cost $36 million to $38 million, including contingencies, Oldham said. It will take about two years to build, officials have said. New Canaan Library has raised more than $16 million toward the project and has asked the town for a $10 million contribution toward the project.

A local group, Friends of Our 1913 Library, is trying to ensure the structure’s preservation, and the building’s future dominated much of the presentation and hearing.

P&Z Chair John Goodwin in introducing the library item, said, “Clearly the understatement of the night is that this is a huge deal for the town, a potential signature change for the town.”

“We have received a lot of letters regarding this application and one thing I can assure the public is we read all the letters,” Goodwin said.

He added, “The one thing—I think that I can speak on behalf of the Commission—is to say that we know that there is a very large, significant part of the New Canaan population that supports this application as-is. We also know that there is a very significant, large portion of the New Canaan population that supports the preservation of the 1913 library.”

According to Goodwin, P&Z will entertain public input on the library’s plans either at its regular meeting April 27 or at an earlier special meeting. 

Last week’s hearing was dedicated to the library’s own presentation and Oldham discussed the history of both the library and the organization’s planning for redevelopment, need for a new facility and the role and importance of libraries generally—and P&Z commissioners’ initial questions (see below).

Those advocating for the 1913 building’s preservation say it’s in good condition and that it’s an important and historic structure in the downtown. It forms an essential part of New Canaan’s character and can and should be incorporated into any future construction plans, especially since the town funds a large portion of the library’s operating budget and the organization has asked for a sizable taxpayer contribution, preservation advocates say.

Yet renovating the original library building would significant work, including installation of an HVAC system, plumbing, wiring and making it ADA-compliant, as well as site work to account for drainage and contouring, she said. 

“A foundation would need to be rebuilt, as would the missing walls,” she said. “The roof and portico columns were replaced with modern synthetic materials several decades ago. And there would be an additional cost to move it on the site. Hazardous materials: An investigation by hazardous materials engineers shows significant levels of asbestos and lead in this original building—in the basement, in the floors and in the roof.”

The cost of abatement “would add significant cost increases,” she said.

Adding $3 million-plus plus the future operational funding “is simply not possible.”

“New Canaan Library has made an offer to the New Canaan Preservation Alliance, to allow them to take possession of the original building, through legal correspondence, and followed up with a meeting with their lawyer,” Oldham said. “They have declined this offer, but continued agitate for the library to change its plans to keep the building. New Canaan Library will not keep this library on site. To preserve this facade would be an attractive reminder of earlier times. But it comes at enormous expense to the library, yet no functional purpose. New Canaan Library is an association library. It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with an independent board and a private philanthropy base. The building and grounds are private property. The town provides a generous grant each year to partially support library operations. This grant is an exchange for value. The library provides enormous benefit to the community—one that, were it a public agency, would come at a far greater cost to the municipality annually, than a single grant. Philanthropic donations provide the remainder of annual operating funds, as well as 100% of the capital costs. This system works for New Canaan. The decision not to keep the original building was careful, reasoned, and was reached by dedicated volunteers advised by professionals.” 

In addressing P&Z, Oldham referred to a timeline filed last month with Town Planner Lynn Brooks Avni and Goodwin that reviews the library’s efforts to find a way to preserve the original building, among other things. It includes a note that, in 2012, a study group of library officials and outside specialists “initially favored maintaining the original (1913) Library wing, if it could fit in with the new structure.” Later, in 2017, following the acquisition of 48 South Ave., the architects proposed a new concept and design that was “the first that does not integrate the original (1913) building on site as a freestanding structure,” the timeline said.

Unveiled publicly in January 2020, the “new” library will feature a glass-and-stone exterior, 300-seat auditorium, rooftop terrace, café, public concourse, fireplace, two large conference rooms and “green” at the corner of Main and Cherry Streets, including where the original 1913 building now stands.

Mark Herter, an associate principal with Centerbrook architectural firm, and Chris Cardany, a principal and engineer with New Haven-based Langan, reviewed the design of the site and building with P&Z, including inspiration from Midcentury Moderns and features such as a flexible auditorium, drainage, utility services, sustainability, consistency with a document that guides planning in New Canaan and parking and landscaping plans.

The library is to be served by 76 parking spaces in the Center School Lot leased from the town—those located nearest to Maple Street. A raised crosswalk and pedestrian-activated flashing beacon is proposed for those walking between the library and lot.

Herter said the proposed library green would comprise about 14% of the library’s approximately 2.2-acre site (including its South Avenue, Main Street and Maple Street parcels), and that landscaping and seating plans for the Cherry Street-facing stretch of the green and sidewalk re-create the area as a gathering space. The overall site will include some 38,000 square feet of native trees, shrubs and ground cover that will be “an extremely rich habitat for wildlife.”

“The library is on the pollinator path,” Herter said. “And what is essential, really, about the way in which we designed and developed this landscape is really to think about those terms—think about native species, think about the habitat, the ability to maintain and enhance and enrich the environment of open space and of downtown.” He added that a planned Children’s Garden at the corner of South and Maple will be a “secret little garden and a private oasis” that extends children’s experiential learning outside.

Commissioners asked why there are no on-site parking spaces for the disabled (there is no parking at all on the new library site, though the disabled spaces in the Center School Lot are closest to the library and the site will include an ADA-standard drop-off zone), whether someone in a wheelchair would need to go out into Maple Street to use the crosswalk (no a sidewalk on the north side of Maple will be extended), whether the site includes access for emergency response vehicles such as firetrucks and ambulances (yes), whether designers had considered an “overpass” between the Center School Lot and library (no, partly due to complications of developing a structure on two sides of the street), whether the Farmers Market that’s operated in the Center School Lot would be held elsewhere in town (yes, probably in the Lumberyard Lot), how far the new building will be from the Maple Street sidewalk (26 feet), what will be the use of organic compounds in finishes that harm air quality (materials such as glues and others are examined carefully), whether runoff rain could be captured and used for non-potable functions such as toilet flushing (that was looked at but ruled out for reasons of cost and logistics, though low-flow fixtures are being used for water conservation), whether restrooms will be gender-specific or unisex (first-floor bathrooms are gender-specific and bathrooms are unisex throughout the rest of the building), whether thought has been given to a partial closure of Maple Street for safety reasons (it’s been examined but would divert too much traffic into the downtown), whether a large truck can be maneuvered in a planned loading dock (trash, fire and box trucks can turn there, and normal tractor-trailers wouldn’t use it), whether shadow studies have been performed (yes), whether there’s a wall enclosing the Children’s Garden (yes), how high it is (the stone wall along Maple is just 30 inches high but there’s another 1.5- to 2-foot drop in grade to the Children’s Garden itself), how the library is thinking about safety issues for the Garden considering children like to climb (there are plantings, there’s no way into the space for a small child without an adult and there will be supervising staff), why a 2011 application to re-zone the entire property as Business A had been withdrawn (not sure—that predates those now on the project, though it may have to do with a parking lot expansion at the time), whether there’s any back-of-house support for the café (it would be operated for an existing independent entity in New Canaan as a second site, and that business would prep food and store goods off-site), whether an outdoor concession is planned for the new library (no), whether it will be closed at some time (the library property is not currently restricted at night), whether the new library will have a backup electrical system (yes), how much of the building will be powered by solar panels (there’s no specific figure at-hand), and whether there’s been thought about deed-restricting the library green area against development (the proposed quasi-library zone protects use of the property).

Noting that other than limited specifications—such as height and floor-area ratio—the new library largely would be allowable in the existing Business A and Apartment Zones with just minor tweaks to the New Canaan Zoning Regulations, Commissioner Krista Neilson questioned whether the creation of an entirely new zone was merited. 

“I am not usually a fan of what I’m calling ‘project-specific zoning,’ which is zoning districts that are written to enable a specific project, which is what’s happening here in this case,” Neilson said. “And in looking at the Business A Zone and the Apartment Zone which this project falls in both of, they both allow quasi-public libraries already, so I’m wondering if you can explain further why you think the new zoning district is necessary, as opposed to just making some minor modifications to the zoning districts where this project would already be allowed by Special Permit.”

Smith responded that what would be required is “more than just a tweak to the two existing zones that we are talking about here.”

“They [the proposed new regulations] are something that should be incorporated for a library that lands here or anywhere else in the town that meets these criteria,” Smith said. “It’s not what people fear of a ‘spot zone.’ It’s really a design element that is useful because it’s more expansive than what was considered just as a tweak to those two zones that you are expanding.”

Herter said that having the property straddle two zones with different criteria in setbacks, coverage, FAR and building height has been a “challenge” and that the question was raised whether to change boundaries so the entire parcel would be located in a single zone or to “develop a unique zoning regulation specifically for that property.”

Some P&Z commissioners asked follow-up questions regarding the 1913 building.

Commissioner James Basch questioned whether the library’s project adheres to goals laid out in the Plan of Conservation and Development that call for a balance of preservation and development. 

Smith said preservation of the building was part of the library’s plans for many years. Oldham noted that library officials had 12 iterations of the rebuilding project that enabled preservation of the 1913 structure, but when the final parcel along South Avenue was obtained, it changed the picture. 

“This is a building funded 75% through philanthropy and the green is such an amazing part of this project,” she said. “That, along with costs—it’s a matter of tradeoffs to get best project we can for the community.”

Commissioner Dick Ward asked whether some elements of the Main Street-facing facade could be incorporated to “sort of give a little bit of recognition to its existence.”

Oldham said the library has made an offer to the New Canaan Preservation Alliance to remove the structure if the group wants to.

“That offer still stands—however, if they retain the same position they’re in now of saying ‘no,’ then we have discussed repurposing those stones in the new perimeter wall at Cherry Street and possibly using some of the stones in the fireplace,” she said.

Herter said the architects studied several ways of integrating the original building in some way into the new one and the idea “was rejected for a number of reasons.”

Commission Secretary Jean Grzelecki called on the library to explain its plans to raze the 1913 building when others in town say there’s room for both the planned new library and existing original structure. She called for an explanation of “why your green space needs to be so large.”

Oldham said in response that where the 1913 eluding sits “in the middle of the lawn completely bifurcates that space.”

“So the idea of a green that would be suitable for performance space is absolutely impossible with that building sitting in the middle,” she said. “Not to mention the contours of the space that would not allow for any sort of useful public performance or large group gatherings on that space, if that building were there.”

[This comment thread has been closed.]

23 thoughts on “‘A Potential Signature Change for the Town’: P&Z Opens New Canaan Library Rebuilding Application

  1. I don’t understand why a project of this magnitude doesn’t go up for town-wide referendum. Let’s see if the voters in the town really want a new library – and its associated financial commitments.

  2. Could the real reason they didn’t incorporate the 1913 building in the new plans perhaps be because they want to build the new building on a different footprint so they can continue to operate the library in the current building while the new building is being constructed? That results in the new building being too far away, disconnected from the 1913 part. Being disconnected, rather than a part of the new/renovated building then requires the litany of costs Lisa Oldham has cited to preserve the 1913 part – ADA bathrooms, plumbing, HVAC equipment, staff.

    If the library’s purchase of the final parcel of land is what made it suddenly impossible to incorporate/preserve the iconic 1913 landmark, perhaps we should regret that the library was able to purchase that last parcel. Why not go back to one of the pre-purchase designs? But since the library does own that parcel, a new green would be more attractive on either or both of the house lots on South Ave, with views of St A’s, the beautifully landscaped Center School parking lot, the trees along South Ave, rather than the proposed location of the new green – staring at the asphalt of the Morse Court parking lot.

  3. Seems like New Canaan don’t really care about the handicap by not having on site parking for the new Library…why should they have handicap parking so far away…

  4. Is it not impossible to build a new library at Irwin Park? Trade land at present library to new library site. The design of the proposed library is out of town character. Parking issue can be resolved at this Irwin site. Darien and Westport have libraries that are modern in design, but not as visible from their towns’ downtown.

  5. It should be noted that the purchase of 48 South Avenue, which was stated to be what facilitated the current library plan sans 1913, was made possible by an almost half-million dollar check from the Town of New Canaan for a highly over-priced property owned by a former Library board president.

  6. Seems like one hand washes the other,and you can still see the dirt…

  7. Susan,

    There are Deed restrictions that would prohibit the swaping of land to allow construction of the Library at Irwin Park.

    Steve Benko
    Recreation Director

  8. I have already commented several times on the proposed new library regarding construction budget, operating cost, and the importance of historic preservation. Having lived in New Canaan my entire life I have been disappointed at New Canaan’s inability to preserve historic properties and more recently to control costs including taxes.

    All that said, and reading the commentary above and listening to many on this subject over the last couple years, my fundamental question becomes, why do we need a new library at all?

    The preponderance of reading I do is on line or with a Kindle device. I would presume that in a town like ours, that is one of the most affluent in the nation, that most people do the same. That seems to negate the need for additional stack space in the new library if that’s even been considered.

    From the perspective of a community meeting space which I believe is something else I have heard talk of on the new library grounds, we already have a senior center, a YMCA, and we had a teen center several years back that closed for lack of use and/or interest. At NCHS we had a ‘teen center’ in the cafeteria on Saturday nights. It was a great example of a multiple use of a facility.

    I read above about a 300 seat auditorium in the new library as well. The high school has a magnificent auditorium that is largely empty evenings and weekends. I am sure an arrangement could be made for that use.

    Finally the green space, as I said last year at this time, do we really need to demolish an iconic structure that already serves as a metaphoric ‘village green’ in terms of a meeting space with a profound history to it? The town already has a significant number of parks – green space that are strategically located, that have a sense of place to them, tying them to the community.

    I see some discussion about green building design here as well. Honestly, as any architect will tell you, there is nothing more sustainable and ‘green’ with the least carbon footprint, than the reuse of an existing building.

    Lastly and most compellingly to me, reading about the FAR, other building bulk issues on the site, parking challenges and looking at the renderings, this building will set a design precedent in the downtown from an intensity and scale standpoint that will be hard to stop once started.

    Looking at the program for the new library more and more, it appears to be a quixotic vision in search of a mission, a monument perhaps to an ego rather than to truly serve the community at large. It not only doesn’t justify a $10M (I would presume minimum) taxpayer contribution but judging by the discussion of the site constraints and program, is ill advised in this current iteration on this site at all.

  9. Ahh, the old “we don’t need a new thing” argument.

    Or the old “I do things this way, so everyone else should do the same” argument.

    Or the old “Books? Who needs ‘em?” argument.

    Then there’s the classic “Back in my day, we did this and went without that, and we were happy to do so,” argument.

    And the “this old building (that would need $3 million dollars to clean out the asbestos, lead paint, electrical and plumbing to bring it up to code and then even after that it’d still just be an old building that doesn’t serve much purpose) is a part of the past and the past was great and we should stay living in it” argument

    Or the simpler “change is bad” argument.

    Not to be bested, we have the new “who needs a bunch of things in one building when they can inconveniently drive all over town and find things in other buildings – even ones that are closed that we’ll just make someone else’s problem to figure out how to reopen and staff them when needed” argument.

    And of course the always amusing “modern architecture is ugly so let’s put it out somewhere faraway where I don’t have to see it” argument. One as old as architecture itself that if anyone had ever taken seriously we’d still be living in caves.

    But whichever argument you choose, when it ends with “let’s just not do anything,” it isn’t really an argument at all.

    And it certainly doesn’t offer a solution to anything.

    Doing nothing solves just that – nothing.

    Proponents of keeping the 1913 building keep arguing that because they like looking at it, or that they have fond memories of going there when they were kids, we should all just be cool with that and stop messing with their nostalgia.

    What a joke.

    The town shouldn’t stop moving forward, attracting new residents, bettering education, improving sustainability, helping remote workers, increasing community engagement, staying competitive with neighboring towns and providing a huge burst of energy to downtown just so people years from now can point to the 1913 building and say “see that building that nobody uses? Once upon a time some people had so much nostalgia for it that it was decided it should serve as a reminder to future generations that at one point in history it was used and enjoyed.”

    We absolutely need a new library. A lot of work has been done to get us to this point. A lot of work which did look at keeping the old 1913 building, but ultimately decided it didn’t make any sense – and wouldn’t work.

    Also, not for nothing, but it’s not like Six Flags is coming to town and saying “we need to tear down your old library for our new theme park.”

    Its the library saying this. The owners themselves.

    Maybe another way to think about it is like this : if you wanted to remodel your house, and someone who lived there in the 1970’s one day showed up and said “but you can’t tear down my old bedroom!” you’d think they were nuts.

    That’s what trying to keep the 1913 building is: nuts.

    • Does this dismissive litany of one-sided straw man arguments encourage better decision making or community spirit? No. Like so many here in Town, I’m not against a “new” library at all. I’m against the absolutely needless destruction of New Canaan’s living history. We’re not former owners telling you how to use “your” bedroom; we’ve been paying millions of dollars for it every year, and are now being asked to foot at least $10 million more. We should have some say in any huge changes being proposed to our Town. That’s not “nuts.”

      • But you are acting like former owners if you try to tell the library what to do with the 1913 building.

        By insisting they keep it you’re saying “go ahead and do whatever you think is best, just as long as its not different from what we think is best.”

        The people who know what is best for the library is the library. A $10 million investment from the town isn’t just throwing money around. It’s going to make something great for the town for the next several years.

        By the logic of the 1913 group, New Canaan schools should have kept the old single-room schoolhouses at their core, and incorporated them into any and all remodeling, expansion and future educational needs.

        But the nuttiest part of the whole “save the 1913” thing is it acts as though nobody ever thought to do that. That tearing the current building down is just some arbitrary choice everyone who’s spent years of designing, working, thinking and planning made by coin flip.

        It was looked into. A lot. But every scenario came with a huge price tag that would still leave the library with a building as useful as it is now.

        Which is why the library wants to build something new – because the current building isn’t much actual use at all.

        • 1. As long as our Library’s business model relies on providing services mostly paid for by our annual property taxes, I am not anything like a “former” owner, despite what you say. I live in this Town, I use the Library, I pay taxes, and am now being asked to help the Town kick in an additional $10 million.
          2. Does the Library really know what’s best? We just found out last month that its underground on-site parking plan, developed over several years, was unfeasible both in cost and in safety. And experienced landscape architect Keith Simpson has articulated how the proposed “library green” can never be what the Library claims. I’ll give the Library the benefit of doubt, but those are fairly significant issues to “discover” just weeks before it wants to break ground. But they know best, I guess.
          3. I’m sure the Library thought it’d use the 1913 building, because they told the public for years that they would; it’s in the public record. Its own community forums showed there was widespread desire to keep the original. Then the Library went quiet for a few years, radically changed its plan, and neglected to share that essential fact with the general public until January 2020. So it did a terrible job of communicating a major departure with the community expectations it had encouraged.
          4. The Library pretends to be “quasi-public” when it needs our money or approval of massive zoning changes, but then claims to “privately own” that which taxpayers have actually made possible.
          5. If you really can’t see any difference between the solid, stone, centrally located 1913 Library (on continuous use) and the rustic, wood frame, single room, rural schoolhouses from New Canaan’s distant past, maybe you shouldn’t be making such absurd conclusions. A more apt comparison might be how Ridgefield incorporated its legacy building in its elegant new LEED-certified library.

          • 1. I’m a taxpayer who uses the library too. And I trust them to use my tax dollars in a smart way. Like building something great and new vs bringing a two-walled facade (all that’s truly left of the 1913 building fyi) of an old building up to code for a cool $3 – 4 million dollars that still won’t serve the needs the library moving forward. I’d add that we are extremely lucky as a town to have such smart, creative, driven people with the town’s best interests at heart putting our tax dollars to great use.

            2. Yes, I do trust the library to know what’s best. And the thousands of town residents who have weighed in and worked on this project for the past 15 years. And the many donors who have personally supported this project with upwards of $17 million. And yes, I trust the architects of Centerbrook. I mean, my goodness, have you seen their site? Seems their hundreds of clients have trusted them too. Yale had them design a whole stadium of green space for instance.

            3. As has been mentioned, the library looked into the 1913 building from many angles. All of which were expensive and still left them with a building that served no modern practical purpose. My understanding is they did offer it to the preservation alliance to purchase and move wherever they’d like? Not sure where that is at, or why that isn’t discussed more?

            4. Again, agree-to-disagree on this one. I’m glad they are using my tax dollars to make something great. And new.

            5. Yes, I know the difference between stone and wood. Touché . And I’m actually not against preserving and reusing old buildings -when it makes sense. It made sense for Ridgefield. It made sense for our own Town Hall. But it does not make sense for the 1913 building. Rather, the two walls of facade that are left.

    • Andrew, well said! The supporters of the 1913 building were offered the building to relocate but, oops, it’s going to be too expensive to move and rehabilitate. It upsets me that this collective of NIMBYs masquerading as preservationists are overshadowing the years hard work that the library staff and trustees have put into developing a first class library plan for New Canaanites. Also, fun fact, if you have a library card you can rent books on your kindle.

  10. Hi Ted – We appear to be making a lot of large changes to the town via administrators and boards rather than public voting (School start time and the Library are present issues, but we will have more soon I am sure – Police Department building and perhaps Senior living again). With an administrator and board structure like we have in New Canaan it is important that diverse views be directly represented on elected bodies. I would encourage you to run for office in the Fall for either of the 2 main town boards, or the BOE, where much of the spending growth is taking place.

  11. There are those among us who seek an urbane and sophisticated view for the future of our sleepy community. They have tapped into the modern urban zeitgeist that calls for the demolition of the century old 1913 library building. It is time, as they suggest, for the Town to move forward into the sunny uplands of the twenty first century. To free ourselves from the suffocating chords of the past.

    In that vein, after we rid ourselves of the library building a next step might be a look at our ridiculous Town Hall building. A similar testament to the retro Greek revival style so out of touch with our oasis of mid-century modernism. Its front lawn is such a waste of urban space and its pretentious front stairway a thumb in the eye of the handicapped and the infirm. Let’s get rid of it and its neighbor the Vine Cottage. It can be converted to productive retail space to enliven downtown.

    Next we should turn our modern eyes to God’s acre that collection of unproductive buildings that dominate the choicest real estate in New Canaan. Their eighteenth century Christopher Wren style is so yesterday. Further they pay no taxes and produce nothing tangible. Forced to assume their commensurate share of the tax burden we could imagine a more useful role for the property. A wonderful new sleek glass high rise condominium with perhaps a magnificent restaurant atop it to provide shelter for the hordes of investment bankers fleeing New York.

    In the spirit of that excitement perhaps we could persuade St. Marks to install a more permanent ferris wheel ala the London Eye in place of the little one put up during the May Fair. Not limited to a single weekend it would be up year round to attract tourists and fun seekers from far and wide. Further in that spirit let’s break out of the current stodgy confines of our downtown, let’s put up some neon lights like Broadway and a multistory garage over Morse Court to handle the thongs of visitors to our sidewalks and the festivities put on at our new Town Green.

    Let’s follow the spirit begun by our Harvard Five forbearers who brought us the Glass House (which one still hopes will one day be replicated elsewhere) and our magnificent New Canaan High School, a testament to the stylish turn the Bauhaus took on the towering cliffs of Normandy. Tear down the police station and replace it with something sleek, smooth and au courant. Combined with Saxe and the new Libray, South Avenue will mark the beginning of our own new modernist Champs Élysées.

    Let us not have the 1913 Library bind us to the past. Let its destruction be the sign of a sassy new beginning. A brilliant shiny future awaits.

  12. The party line from the pro-demolition folks is that the new library / “town” green has been “meticulously planned” by very smart people who have been planning it for years and years. So it’s really surprising that the planners were still so wrong about the cost and safety of on-site underground parking. Or about the real size and utility of the restricted, private “town” green. Or about our zoning rules and Plan of Conservation and Development and our Village District. Or about promises made in the past. Or about the real value (not mere “nostalgia”) many New Canaanites see in preserving the sense of history and place in our downtown. Again, I am NOT against moving ahead with a new post-COVID library. Let’s go for it. But I am against the needless disrespect and destruction of our community’s shared history.