New Canaan’s highest elected official said Tuesday that he would like to appoint a new committee of architects to set a strategy for capital improvements at Waveny House.
A project to introduce air-conditioning at Waveny, for example, and overhaul its HVAC system, would cost $2.5 million, according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan.
“Do we want to do that?” Moynihan said during a regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen, held at Town Hall. “We would look to this committee to recommend what would be the strategy. So we would not be planning to do an $8 million or $10 million or $12 million renovation of Waveny House. But now that we have secured the perimeter of the building, we need to take next the steps and that will only be determined to after the committee makes recommendations.”
The comments came during the selectmen’s review of a draft Five-Year Capital Plan (available here).
Selectman Kit Devereaux noted that the Plan calls for $1.5 million annually in capital funding for Waveny House for four years starting in fiscal year 2020.
“There are things in the Five-Year Capital Plan that I would be very concerned about, so by approving this—for instance, $6 million toward Waveny is more than I would like to se go there,” Devereaux said. “So by voting for this, what does that imply?”
New Canaan CFO Sandra Dennies replied that the selectmen’s approval “is a recognition of the projections by town departments and it clearly has no budgetary implications until you come to budget time.”
Moynihan described the $6 million in earmarks for Waveny House as a “plug figure.”
Ultimately, Moynihan, Devereaux and Selectman Nick Williams voted 3-0 in favor of the Plan, though Devereaux made a point saying, “I will go on record with saying that I am definitely not in agreement with some of the stuff in there.”
Moynihan noted that a new software system that tracks the lifecycles of town-owned buildings, providing a snapshot of capital needs and attendant costs, reported a “very large number for Waveny House.”
Williams said that Devereaux made a good point and described the Five-Year Capital Plan as a “snapshot” of the “reasonable desires” of town department heads regarding capital needs. Ultimately, priorities are set and projects funded or deferred during the budget season, the selectmen and Dennies said.
Moynihan noted that at times, funding for large-scale projects such as the $18.6 million expansion and renovation at Saxe Middle School have been made as special appropriations ratter than built into capital budgets.