Did You Hear … ?

The concept of rebuilding New Canaan Library on the Center School Lot instead of where it is, floated by First Selectman Kevin Moynihan weeks ago, is “not on the table now,” he said during a press briefing Thursday. Asked about the matter, Moynihan said the concept had seemed “worth exploring” after the Gulf Station at Cherry and South was sold, but that library officials have effectively communicated it’s a non-starter. The project, which calls for creation of a new “town green” where the original library building stands and includes a town contribution of $10 million, has won support from the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance and Town Council. (The town is working on a Memorandum of Understanding with the library, and bond issuances are still to come.) 

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A petition to reinstate ousted Emergency Management Director Mike Handler has garnered more than 1,600 digital signatures. He resigned June 3 at the Moynihan’s request.

Local Organizations and COVID-19: Carriage Barn Arts Center

For today’s Q&A with a local nonprofit organization, we hear from Hilary Wittmann, executive director of Carriage Barn Arts Center. Here’s our exchange. New Canaanite: Many of our local nonprofit organizations have missed out on major spring fundraisers due to the health-related restrictions that followed COVID-19 virus. How is Carriage Barn Arts Center faring and what sort of impact is the public health emergency having on the organization? Hilary Wittmann: It’s been incredibly disappointing that the gallery has been closed this spring and so many exhibits, special events and concerts couldn’t take place. There have been some silver linings though, as we transitioned to sharing our exhibits virtually.

Town: Some Condos in Town on Track To Get Natural Gas This Year

The utility company that started bringing natural gas into New Canaan two years ago now is looking to expand into condominium developments in town, officials said Monday. Eversource’s plans for this year include the 18-unit King’s Grant complex on Main Street, as well as Canaan Parish at Lakeview Avenue and Route 123 and “a couple of other areas where they are heavily served by condominiums,” according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. “And there are some interior mains that have to be installed there, quite substantial main installations in the property itself, so in King’s Grant they have several hundred feet to do,” Mann told members of the Selectmen’s Advisory Committee on Buildings and Infrastructure during their regular meeting, held via videoconference. 

“We are hoping that they will continue to go down Locust to get to the Board of Ed building and the other large brick buildings that are on the corner of Cherry and Locust. We have asked them to look at the expansion on Pine Street, Grove Street and upper Elm Street.”

Many residential streets off of the gas main that comes into New Canaan through Old Stamford Road already have natural gas service as a result of the long-sought Eversource expansion, as do larger complexes such as The Vue at Park and Maple Streets, formerly known as ‘Merritt Village.’

Mann said that Eversource has a list of businesses in downtown New Canaan that are seeking to seeking to get natural gas, including Karl Chevrolet and Walter Stewart’s. First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said that the building at Elm and Grove Streets that Bankwell is to use for its headquarters also could get natural gas. 

“My feeling is that unless we push Eversource to do as much as they can while they’re still under this three-year commitment, they are going to go away and we will never get them back,” Moynihan said.

Lawsuit Alleges Racist and Homophobic Verbal Abuse in Fire Department

A New Canaan firefighter for more than one dozen years has suffered verbal abuse and harassment—including in the form of racist and homophobic remarks—from a superior in the department, while town officials have failed to address the ongoing problem, according to a lawsuit filed recently in Superior Court. Since being promoted in 2007, a captain in the New Canaan Fire Department “has engaged in a continuing course of conduct and behavior toward the Plaintiff which was and is cruel, hostile, extreme, courageous and designed to harass, humiliate, intimidate, threats, discriminate and retaliate against the Plaintiff,” according to a complaint filed April 7 by Shelton-based attorney Michael Lynch of Lynch Law Group LLC. The aggrieved firefighter is a 41-year-old white male hired as a full-time firefighter in 2006, according to a detailed nine-count complaint. 

As a result of the abuse, he has sustained “psychological suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish and distress of mind, including fright, nervousness, depression, grief, anxiety, worry, mortification, shock, humiliation and indignity, all of which is or is likely to be permanent,” the lawsuit said. Officials in the Fire Department and in Town Hall failed to properly train, supervise or discipline the captain, it said. The town is named as sole defendant, according to Connecticut Judicial Branch records. 

The complaint details several incidents involving the captain at the center of the lawsuit and the firefighter bringing it.

Did You Hear … ?

Bankwell announced Thursday that it is leasing the 30,000-square-foot, three-story building at 258 Elm St. in New Canaan—formerly known as the “Unimin” building—from New York-based full-service real estate advisory firm Besen Partners, LLC, which acquired it in October. 

Bankwell is to use the office space for its headquarters, and Bankwell CEO Chris Gruseke said in a a press release that the company would gather more than 100 employees there. “With the addition of over 50 of our team members relocating to New Canaan, I am personally gratified to be part of a plan that will bring economic stimulus to our town,” Gruseke said in the release. “We are mindful that, despite our growth throughout Fairfield County and into New Haven County, our bank has its roots in New Canaan and would not enjoy the success we have today without the original support from our local community. I would also like to thank Dan Steinberg of Besen Partners for the patience and flexibility which allowed us to plan this physical transition during these very trying times.”

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New Canaan Library is expecting to begin self-service pickups of books and other materials as soon as June 15.