New Canaan should consider moving the school district’s administrative offices into the under-used third floor of the Police Department building on South Avenue rather than Waveny House or Irwin Park, the town’s highest elected official said Thursday.
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said he didn’t agree with a committee’s recently published recommendation that Waveny or Irwin should be considered as alternatives to the New Canaan Public Schools’ administrators renting office space downtown for about $300,000 per year.
The police headquarters at 174 South Ave.—a structure built 90 years ago as New Canaan’s first high school—is “a much more viable alternative,” Moynihan said in response to questions from NewCanaanite.com at a press briefing in his office with local media outlets.
“I think it’s absurd to think about putting the Board of Education or the administration into Waveny House and I think Irwin Park would be equally absurd,” he told NewCanaanite.com. (The briefing also was attended by the New Canaan Advertiser and New Canaan News.)
The renovations that would be needed to make either of those sites suitable would be prohibitively expensive, Moynihan said, and in the case of Waveny, “inconsistent with what the town” wants the building to be.
Moynihan added that he fully supports the proposed renovation of the first and second floors at NCPD, a project that could cost about $4 million to $5 million.
Calling the Police Department headquarters “a great building,” Moynihan said the town’s professional staff agrees that renovating the South Avenue structure is “a much more viable approach.”
“Which means we probably will put money in the budget” to pursue such a project, he said.
Both Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi and Police Chief Leon Krolikowski are aware of the plan, Moynihan said.
The public schools’ LAUNCH program which operates on the ground floor of the same building at Locust Avenue and Forest Street where the district now has its offices, would stay there, Moynihan said, while an alternative high school program would occupy the former Outback Teen Center building behind Town Hall.
The school district itself uses about 9,000 square feet of office space downtown “and that could be replicated at the Police Department,” Moynihan said. A small number of district administrators who work on Special Education curriculum for middle school and high school could be relocated to Saxe and NCHS, respectively, he said.
Moynihan also noted that there’s a one-floor extension out the back of NCPD that, if a second floor is added to it, would bring in about 2,400 square feet more “and then the school administration could easiy fit on that floor.”
In a way, the proposal combines two of the major recommendations that came out of the Town Building Evaluation & Use Committee earlier this month—namely, forcing a task force to look at relocating the Board of Ed offices downtown to a town-owned building, and providing funds to address capital needs at the Police Department headquarters.