New Canaanites disembarking from the train station may have a nicer first view of the town than the dumpsters by the alley next to Starbucks.
Along with plans for a new brick sidewalk on the east side of Park Street between Elm and Cherry, a sliding gate would be installed at the bottom of the alley—long known as ‘Elm Court’ (its green street sign post remains, though the sign is gone)—that screens the dumpsters from view.
According to Department of Works Assistant Director and Downtown Captain Tiger Mann, who conceived of the gate, it will not block access to the alley for vehicles such as garbage trucks that need to get there, but will serve to shield off the alley from view when not in use.
First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said Tuesday during a Board of Selectmen meeting that the area looks “sloppy” at the moment.
“When you get off the train now, that area in front of Starbucks that has a kind of wall and some patchy sidewalk in front of the Radio Shack and CVS and all that, [now it] will get the same look as the rest of downtown,” Mallozzi said at the meeting, held in the Training Room at the New Canaan Police Department.
The selectmen voted 2-0 in favor of a contract for $5,000 in survey work from Bridgeport-based Cabezas DeAngelis Engineers to do the survey and design work for the sidewalk. Mallozzi, who owns commercial property on that block of Park, abstained from voting, and the first selectman had declined to sign off on the contract on his own (as he typically might for an agreement in that amount) so that input could be had from Selectmen Beth Jones and Nick Williams.
Mann said the re-working of that stretch of sidewalk is tied to the Plan of Conservation & Development, which was updated last year.
Planning officials and business leaders long have sought to solve an increasing problem of trash downtown, saying loose garbage bags, conspicuous dumpsters and misused trash receptacles diminish the village center’s appearance and charm—if not its sanitation. Off-hours visitors to the business district and nearby Mead Park misuse public garbage bins and commercial dumpsters by throwing their household trash in them, exacerbating the problem in a town that’s seen a steep rise, in recent years, in the number restaurants and attendant waste that requires hauling, officials have said.
On the planned new sidewalk, Mann said at the meeting: “We have nice brick sidewalks running down Elm Street and Main Street, this is another connection to try to get to Cherry and what used to be the Post Office on the east side of Park. There are some substantial grading issues across the sidewalk lines and we would like to have DeAngelis come out and do a survey and get some proper grades and actually made a nice design.”
Jones asked whether Mann was happy with how the brick sidewalks have held up, saying they hadn’t heaved as much as she’d feared.
Mann said he’s seen some heaving after this harsh winter but that it hasn’t been as bad as he’d feared.
Priorities now for sidewalk work downtown include Cherry Street along the library block (between South and Main), and Pine Street including toward Grove, Mann said.