Letter: ‘New’ Darien Library Should Give New Canaan Pause

The executive director of the New Canaan Library has told us to look at Darien as the model library for New Canaan to emulate. So we did. If Darien’s experience after it built its library is anything to go by, the New Canaan Library’s planned renovation really is shaping up to be a classic boondoggle. Some data: After Darien built its new library in 2009 in a project very similar to what the New Canaan Library is contemplating now, after the first year rush, traffic there has fallen, even as operating costs to run the new, larger LEED, Gold (which should make it extra efficient) building soared from $2.9 million in 2007 to $4.99 million in 2019. 

This was all pre-coronavirus, of course, and consistent with the trend across the state.  

With all due respect to our friends in Darien, that can’t be counted as a success in any way.

Public Buildings InfoSheet: Irwin House

[Editor’s Note: The following “Statement of significance” has been prepared in advance of the April 26 Forum on Public Buildings, to be held 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Town Hall—more information is available here and questions for panelists can be submitted here. Most of the information in the bullet points below is drawn from the Town Building Evaluation & Use Committee report.]

Built: 1963
Square Footage: 7,963
Current Uses: Recently provided swing space offices for the town, though a long-term use has not been identified. Committee Recommendations: Either put Irwin House to work or consider whether continued maintenance and the contingent liability is warranted. Potential use would be relocation of the Board of Educaiton from its leased office space either through a renovation/expansion or replacement, depending on the most cost effective and building appropriate analysis. Submitted by Neele-Banks Stichnoth:

Thomas Watson, Sr. the IBM founder, bought the property at 848 Weed Street for his country home.