Editorial: A Change of Leadership on the Parking Commission

“Leadership is about vision and responsibility, not power.” —Seth Berkley

New Canaan needs a change of leadership on the Parking Commission. 

Chairman Keith Richey is to be commended for the length of his volunteer service on the appointed body, which works closely with the New Canaan Parking Bureau and makes recommendations about traffic circulation and off-street lots, including fees for permits and violations, and also hears ticket appeals. He was appointed July 21, 1998, according to records on file in the Town Clerk’s office, and elected chairman March 3, 1999. Yet Richey has failed to create a long-term vision for parking in New Canaan at a time when such forward-thinking is sorely needed, has failed even on minor matters to build consensus within the Commission and has failed by temperament and in practice to collaborate with or support his counterparts in Town Hall—a shortcoming that crystallized last week in his gross mishandling of an important matter now before the town, punctuated by menacing and inappropriate treatment of a municipal department head. New Canaan needs to have a frank discussion about whether its parking rules should change—the times at which enforcement starts and ends, for example, whether those who overstay should be granted a fixed “grace period” or even whether the town should introduce some form of free parking. 

Yet in railing against officers for enforcing parking rules that he himself is responsible for recommending, in wrangling with a parking manager at a public meeting after forcing her into a defensive stance and, after that department head stood her ground and attempted to lighten the mood of the meeting, in issuing a vague and menacing admonition for her to “be careful,” Richey showed himself to be unfit to hold the office of chairman. 

He should step down. If he won’t, we call on the Board of Selectmen to vote him off of the Commission, as per the Town Charter.

Full Disclosure: A Cautionary Tale

Our doorbell has been out of commission for months and it has not phased me one bit. 

Fully embracing my inner shut-in, I am not at all anxious that I have missed any truly important visitors, like the angelic Girl Scout cookie peddlers or an unannounced Oprah ambush. I may have even avoided uncomfortable interactions with dreaded door-to-door salesfolk, wandering environmentalists and the occasional drive-by serial killer. 

Weeks ago, Aquarion Water Company must have come a’calling—and since I am visitor-proof, they left an urgent notice on our doorknob. By the way, nothing says *urgent* like a white luggage tag on the front door. I was instructed to contact the company immediately regarding a water leak on our property. 

Most people would have called Aquarion pronto to get to the bottom of the bad news. Instead, I decided to marinate in the information and torment myself with a visual loop of worst-case scenarios.

Op-Ed: Gratitude and Reflection

Dear New Canaan Community, 

Nine years ago, Gil and I moved to this beautiful town with two middle school-aged girls. We were, as so many are, taken with the walking village life, the centrality of the school as a critical community anchor, and especially by the incredible amount of open public land that highlights New England beauty. 

As we prepare to relocate back home to the Midwest (for family, for work and for study) I feel compelled to share a few thoughts, having served the community in several ways in our nine years here. What I have come to love about New Canaan through my involvement with Rotary, League of Women Voters, the New Canaan Clergy Association and certainly in my role as the Community Initiative Director at Grace Farms Foundation, is the dedication and dynamism of the not-for-profit sector here in town. 

In our pursuit to define that somewhat nebulous term “community,” Sharon Prince and I have often remarked with appreciation how the strong cross-sector collaborations between municipal government and local non-profits, combined with amazing energy from active citizens, is what builds strong community. I delight in sharing with our leadership team all I have seen first hand that happens in town; whether at September 11 Memorial Events or at Rotary’s Lobsterfest, at Caffeine and Carburetors, in the Pop Up Park, at the Sidewalk Sale and Holiday Stroll, the (now) Annual Addiction Vigil, people coming together following the horror in Sandy Hook and deadly shootings in Las Vegas, and much more. This defines the essence of community- far more than just a lovely town to live in, commute from, and raise a family.

Letter: Selling Town-Owned Land at Lapham and Talmadge Hill Roads a ‘Bad and Short-Sighted’ Idea

The proposal to sell the 6.2 acre undeveloped parcel of Waveny Park land on the south side of the Merritt Parkway adjacent to the Talmadge Hill Station is a very bad and short-sighted solution to the town’s fiscal condition. The recommendation should go no further than the Conservation Commission and the Parks & Recreation Commission, and they most assuredly will vote “no.”

This “unused” property is wooded open space that provides wildlife habit; serves as a sink for carbon dioxide and other exhaust pollutants from the Merritt Parkway; is a groundwater recharge area; and helps provide the green buffer that makes Waveny Park feel so rural. New Canaan has less than the state recommended area preserved as public open space. Selling six acres for development is simply not justified from an environmental standpoint. If the parcel is legally part of Waveny Park, then under state law, a like kind amount of land must be purchased to compensate for the taking of park land.

Letter: ‘Sapienza Scholarship’ Helps Bridge Significant Gaps for NCHS Students

Dear Editor,

In a couple of weeks, the Sapienza Scholarship committee of the New Canaan Community Foundation will begin its annual scholarship award process. We have been convening since 2007 when Ann Sapienza, a longtime New Canaan resident, set up an endowed fund for New Canaan students who could not afford a college education. Over the month of May our dedicated committee of board members and town residents will meet weekly to review more than 60 applications for grants to help New Canaan students with college costs. The applicants remain anonymous and the awards are need-based in nature. In addition to their financial needs, we learn about each student’s academic and athletic achievements, arts involvement, community service and job experience.