A new canopy on the platform at Talmadge Hill Train Station would cost about $450,000, members of the New Canaan Parking Commission said last week.
Commissioner Chris Hering, who is spearheading the plan, said he has received a quote from a private company for a 100-foot long bus-stop style canopy with solar panels, and that the quoted price includes installation. Hering said he has forwarded to quote the Board of Selectmen.
That’s a fraction of the estimated $4 million the state would have spent installing a more permanent canopy in a previously submitted plan. However, as Hering noted during the Nov. 7 meeting, held at Town Hall, “the state has no money,” and efforts by local leaders to get the state to install a canopy going back t0 1995 have gone nowhere.
According to Hering, if the town does take on the project, it could be partially funded using revenue generated from the train station lots, which are owned by the state and kept in a separate account. Previously, it was thought that these funds could only be used for paving the lots, but Hering recently learned that they can be used for other improvements. The town is allowed to use the funds – which currently stand at around $300,000 – for other improvements such as canopies. This could be combined with another approximately $200,000 from the town’s parking fund to cover the full cost of the project, he said, should the major town bodies elect to move the idea forward.
However, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan, who was in attendance, emphasized that the project must also be approved by Metro-North Railroad.
“I think the whole issue is whether Metro-North would agree,” Moynihan said. “I’m told that the state has standards [for the construction of platform canopies] – like, they have to be hurricane-proof. So, it would have to be approved by the state.”
Moynihan asked Hering if the canopy quoted would be similar to the bus-stop type structures that are currently on the platform.
Hering said it is “much slicker.”
“It looks like the one at [the] Springdale [train station],” he said. “It starts at the pavement, goes up adjacent to the raised platform, and then it has a T-structure, or base structure – and the plane that faces south has solar panels on it.”
“It is modern looking and contemporary,” Hering added, saying the canopy “would cover about three quarters of the length of the platform, plus the stairways.”
Hering did not provide the name of the company that provided the quote. He said he got a copy of the state’s $4 million canopy plan from Public Works Director Tiger Mann and sent it to the company. The company replied that its canopy “would be the equivalent” of what the state is proposing, in terms of standards.
“I can’t vouch for the hurricane strength [of the proposed structure]… but clearly the state isn’t going to build this structure anytime soon,” Hering said.
Hering said first the town must decide how it wants to use the parking funds – whether to paint the downtown station, pave the lots or install a canopy.
If the town decides to install the canopy, then, as a second step, it must request approval from Metro North.
“We have to first determine whether it is more important to pave the lots – or install the structure,” he said. “And, if we so decide to put the structure, then we would go to the MTA and say, ‘The town wants to spend its monies on this, do you approve it?’”
But as Commissioner Peter Ogilvie noted, “We’re going to have to justify the expenditure—and we’re also going to have to get approval for the structure.”
Hering said the town will likely have to show that the canopy “has a higher utility” than paving the lots.
When Ogilvie asked Hering how much the solar panels add to the cost of the canopy, Hering did not have a precise answer. Hering said he would get back to the Commission with an estimate for the canopy without solar panels.
Moynihan added that he thinks Talmadge Hill is “the only Metro North station that doesn’t have canopies.”
Later in the meeting, the Parking Commission agreed to include the canopy proposal in its set of recommendations to the Board of Selectmen.