Here’s What’s Next for the Former ‘Mead Park Brick Barn’ Site

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Keith Simpson Associates Inc. master plan for Mead Park. Courtesy of Keith Simpson Associates

Town officials say they’re adopting a plan laid out by a local landscape architect to reimagine the northern portion of Mead Park where, until last week, a former fuel depot had stood for 100 years. 

Site of the former Richmond Hill Garage or Mead Park Brick Barn, on April 8, 2019. Credit: Michael Dinan

The demolition of the “Mead Park Brick Barn,” which came nearly one year after the first selectman broke a tie on the Town Council to have it razed, clears the way for New Canaan to pursue a plan for the area that Keith Simpson Associates put forward several years ago.

Plans call for an overhead sign announcing the new formal entrance to ‘Mead Park’ and commencement of the “Gold Star Walk,” an honorary walk in memory of New Canaanites who died in World War II that rings that side of Mead Pond. The footprint of the Brick Barn would remain as a plaza with native stone paving infill and seating that’s edged by ornamental fencing, an on-grade brick border and low plantings, under the Simpson plan, and a pedestrian path would run off of the back toward the Gold Star Walk itself.

The small parking area next to the razed building would include six parking spaces, one for disabled drivers, and a bike rack would be added there, under the plan.

Site of the former Richmond Hill Garage or Mead Park Brick Barn, on April 8, 2019. Credit: Michael Dinan

Asked about the plans, Public Works Director Tiger Mann called the area “an underutilized side of the park.”

“Most people come in for the other side, with the Lodge and baseball fields and playground, so we want to promote usage of this side, we’re trying to make a nice entranceway,” he said.

It isn’t clear just now whether every detail of the Simpson plan can be realized immediately, Mann said—for example, the plan include a commemorative sign as well as several benches in the plaza that typically cost the town about $4,000 apiece. However, the plan will serve as a guide in remaking the area.

The Town Council last May approved $65,000 in bonding as part of a larger package, for the “demolition and restoration of the grounds at the Mead Park Richmond Hill Storage Building.” Last month, the Board of Selectmen by a 2-1 vote approved about $53,000 in contracts for the demolition piece, leaving about $12,000 for the restoration work.

Much of that money is to be used for topsoil and seed for disturbed areas around the former Barn and then will go toward plantings to delineate what the Simpson plan calls the “plaza,” Mann said.

“I would love to edge the plaza on grade with a brick border, I don’t know about the paving infill,” he said.

The northern edge of Mead Park is poised to see more pedestrian activity, especially as the town has extended sidewalks from Grove Streets and the intersection of Richmond Hill Road and Park Street, and planned another extension up Richmond Hill to Marshall Ridge Road.

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13 thoughts on “Here’s What’s Next for the Former ‘Mead Park Brick Barn’ Site

  1. Perhaps these funds would best be spent repaving our roads? Or for services for those in need? The memorial would be lovely, but could be much more simple.

  2. Do we really need an asphalt parking lot, especially for six cars? Why not just a lovely vista of nature – grass, shrubs, trees, with a couple of benches?

  3. I supported demo of the eyesore old brick barn to open up views of Mead Park, as did others.

    Now, a “plan” for a gateway/new entrance magically appears.

    Appears that “the powers that be” did not want discurrsion of the “plan,” while the debate re demolition was in process.

    Certainly feels like typical behavior in Hartford and Washington has made itsw way to New Canaan.

  4. No parking lot. I was of mixed mind on the Brick Barn, but would have opposed tearing it down if the decision was to pave over instead of expanding the landscaping. The setting as you go southwest on Richmond is beautiful — let’s extend that! Years ago we lost the natural border along Park Street when the trees were torn down to make way for condos. Please let’s protect what’s left of the park boundaries. The idea of improving pedestrian access is wonderful. It’s a park: we should promote walkability.

  5. It’s interesting to me that the parking area in this plan has emerged as such a focal point for readers. This part of Mead is removed from its main parking areas over by the ball fields. To get to it, those who pull in from Park Street would need to either hike the Gold Star Walk from its entrance on the east side of the pond, or else walk along the road on the west side (or pick through geese grease on the bank). There’s no on-street parking on Richmond Hill Road, and the commuter lot at the corner of Park Street doesn’t really free up for non-permit-holders until 2 p.m. Grove Street has limited on-street parking, and it’s all parallel parking. Mead Park has always served all of New Canaan, not just residents who live near enough to walk to it, and while the town has done well to open up more pedestrian access routes, not everyone wants to park two blocks away and hoof it down. Also, remember that this “new” entrance to Mead Park is designed, in part, to bring visitors immediately to a memorial for New Canaanites who died fighting in World War II, a group that likely includes seniors who may, in some cases, desire easier access by car. It may seem to many like a short distance to walk, but it could be a prohibitively long trek for some among us. Let’s give them a place to park.

  6. It’s an opportunity to create a beautiful vista and a parking lot filled
    with cars would ruin it. There’s plenty of parking that is close enough
    on road heading out of park along side tennis courts.

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