6 thoughts on “ARPA Funds: Selectmen Recommend Giving Darien Company $60,000 for Marketing [UPDATED]

  1. If a privately funded professional board wants to buy a couple gallons of snake oil, that’s one thing.

    But for the town to use taxpayer dollars– specifically those earmarked for post-pandemic economic and public health recovery, to pay a snake oil salesman from Darien to lazily co-opt a campaign initially designed for the Board of Realtors is beyond reproach.

    The creative is lackluster to begin with: a handle nobody knows how to pronounce, a generic social media calendar that’s redundant with (but remarkably less informative than) the Chamber of Commerce’s content, and no unifying aesthetic or conceptual principle. Is this for people considering moving to New Canaan? Or people who already live here? Nobody knows, because nobody ever bothered to write a clear brief.

    However, what is clear is that the Selectmen and TEDAC don’t have much of an instinct for marketing. They aren’t holding this idea to any form of traditional success measurement. Without defined goals, key performance indicators, and direct responsibility to the taxpayers funding this limitless folly, they look like a bunch of rubes who fell for the shiny jargon and bewitching man bun of a traveling salesman.

    It was COVID that solved our real estate inventory problem. Not digital marketing. And if you don’t believe me, boy, do I have a bridge to sell you.

  2. I think VFW post 653 asked for consideration. Are they getting the support they need? If they’re based In darien shouldn’t they apply for support there?

    • Thanks Margaret.

      To answer your first question, the VFW is not in line to receive ARPA funding as described in this particular table. You are correct that the organization asked for help at a public hearing. Here’s a bookmark from the Oct. 5 Town Council meeting where John McLane, a U.S. Army captain in Vietnam and member of VFW Post 653, requests funding so that the organization can continue to place flags and wreaths on the gravestones of military veterans interred in New Canaan. It’s only five minutes long and worth watching. Please note especially the 1:07:40 mark, where Mr. McLane says rather humbly, “Whatever you can do we would appreciate, because it’s been kind of tough the last couple of years.” In reply, the Town Council chair (at the time) makes what appears to be a joke about how donations for the VFW surely will “double” because Mr. McLane is appearing on a local cable access channel, and Mr. McLane responds flatly, “I’m not laughing.”

      The town appears to be trying to cover itself somewhat with respect to meeting requests from nonprofit organizations by announcing that it’s working with the Community Foundation (which of course has a far longer track record with respect to funding than the town itself), to vet such requests. Importantly, the CF has a time-tested and effective system already in place for fielding and studying such grant requests. Town Hall put out a “press release” on Monday on what the town is calling the “unique partnership.” How much ARPA funding will be available through that channel isn’t clear because it wasn’t in the PR. I’m not sure how the town plans to explain its decision to pull out some nonprofit organizations for the type of standalone consideration that’s described in this article. That would be a good question to ask the first selectman and his staff.

      There is, perhaps, also an open question as to why the town is issuing a press release about its partnership with the Community Foundation, but is not directing the Board of Realtors toward that same application process along with the other venerable nonprofit organizations in New Canaan that are seeking ARPA support.

      In response to your second question, the New Canaan Board of Realtors is based in New Canaan, I believe their office is on Grove Street near the park. What is based in Darien is the marketing company they hired to take over this marketing campaign. While the causes, projects and organizations that are seeking a part of New Canaan’s taxpayer funding through ARPA are based in town, in many cases I would imagine that the vendors who will be paid for the various work they want to get done will not necessarily be located/based/headquartered here.

  3. I agree with Laura Ault’s comments. Note to the First Selectman: More than a few New Canaan taxpayers find the recommended $60,000 allocation to Live New Canaan to be both “controversial” and “objectionable.”

  4. While a larger topic, I think the propriety of the appropriation list should be reassessed, starting with this $60K item.

    On the surface, some of the items make complete sense, such as the hazard bonus pay and the parking fund reimbursement. Others do not, including the aforementioned $60K.

    BTW, I went to the website in question. Clearly a real estate slant, though some very useful general content, like the event/happenings cal. However, more private industry than public interest site. Some parts could easily be replicated by a trusted, objective private source, such as Newcanaanite or NC Advertiser, the latter even under its current ownership.

    • I agree with you, Peter. The town doesn’t need another calendar aggregator. What we *actually* need is to provide hazard/ thank you/ bonus pay to the people who kept us going for the past 22 months. Really disappointed in anyone who promoted this idea.

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