As officials discuss town-owned buildings such as Irwin House, Gores Pavilion, and Vine Cottage, residents are raising questions about the town’s responsibility to maintain those structures and how their use can be measured—factors expected to help determine their futures. The topic was heavily discussed at last week’s “Forum on Public Buildings,” starting when a resident asked why, in the report issued in December by the Town Building Evaluation & Use Committee, Mead Park Brick Barn is only being given a six-month window for proposals to be submitted and presented when all other buildings were given one full year. One panelist, Penny Young—a Town Councilman who served as co-chair of that committee—answered that new Canaan is “looking at very different economic times.”
“We are looking at every single line item in our budget with a critical eye and, also, looking at it from a perspective of ‘What’s the town’s responsibility and the provision of services and is the town’s responsibility the preservation of building, or is it community response to those buildings?’ ” Young said during the forum, held April 26 at Town Hall. She continued: “The Carriage Barn and the Powerhouse [agreements] were done years ago before those kinds of thoughts were being exercised. What is also being considered [for] those two building and others, like the Nature Center buildings, [is] how many New Canaan residents are utilizing those buildings?