Letter: Show Support for NCPA’s ‘Brick Barn’ Proposal


I was honored to be one of three New Canaan Preservation Alliance (“NCPA”, a 501(c)3 organization) representatives who, on July 23, presented to our First Selectman and Town Council Chairman NCPA’s offer to lease long-term, immediately stabilize, improve, and maintain the Mead Park Brick Barn (“MPBB”), a locally important and nationally scarce property listed on the Connecticut State Register Of Historic Places.

The First Selectman’s response to NCPA’s credible long-term lease and restoration proposal was surprising.  Within one day of meeting with NCPA (i) NCPA’s meeting request that he and the Town Council Chairman inform NCPA as to how and when earliest to present its proposal to New Canaan’s entire Town Council for its due consideration was ignored, (ii) NCPA’s proposal was shelved, and (iii) the Town’s demolition permit application process was started.

  • NCPA proposed to immediately save and improve a building that New Canaan has admittedly neglected to maintain and lease for decades.
  • NCPA proposed to immediately invest up to $40,000 to secure this approximately 800 square foot building, repair its doors, windows and roof, clean-up its perimeter landscape and occupy the building in a low impact manner.
  • As additional consideration, NCPA (which is presently solely funding Waveny Park’s application to the U.S. National Historic Register) offered to assist our Town in applying for preservation and improvement grants for other qualifying New Canaan owned historic properties—to save New Canaan additional moneys. (NCPA obtained one such grant for the MPBB, which New Canaan’s previous administration inexplicably forwent.)
  • NCPA will immediately save the Town Of New Canaan from spending a budgeted $65,000 (no demolition contract bids have yet been requested) to $400,000+ (MPBB demolition bid received by New Canaan in 2010).

At a time that New Canaan’s real estate values continue to decline, at a time that our property owners’ real estate taxes will surely be increased, and in anticipation of potential further tax increases attendant to New Canaan’s latest plan to expend $8.2 to $12 million to acquire and improve the Unimin Building, let’s take a first step now to save taxpayers’ money and restore common sense to our Town’s property use and management process.

Let’s begin now by enabling NCPA to preserve an historic and valuable Town building, while immediately saving New Canaan from an unnecessary expenditure, the true amount of which our Town has not recently determined.

I ask readers to please write, e-mail and in every way inform all New Canaan Town Council members that you support NCPA in its sensible proposal to immediately preserve the historic and valuable MPBB, and to further help our Town save money and preserve and improve its other qualifying properties.


Charles L. Robinson

9 thoughts on “Letter: Show Support for NCPA’s ‘Brick Barn’ Proposal

  1. I agree. This is a historic building. Preserving it will enrich New Canaan culturally and economically. Thank you Charlie.

  2. I will be at the Farmer’s Market again this Saturday 10-1 with a petition to support this reasonable proposal by the New Canaan Preservation Alliance Inc. – please come by and sign it! AND…
    New Canaan’s Historic Review Committee, created by Ordinance about 10 years ago, will hold a hearing at the New Canaan Historical Society this Thursday at 10 AM – to determine whether the Mead Park Brick Barn is historically and culturally significant, so that a 90 day delay of demolition may be applied. Pease come and show your support!

  3. I am very happy this building will be saved and that a group of citizens had the fo right to fight for this. The building has dpbeen part of the park since I was little. I am glad it will continue.
    Thank you.
    Abby Cushman Newton

  4. In the 2011-12 time frame I was Chairman of the Parks and Rec Commission for the Town. At that time the proposals being floated today on finding a long term lessee and restoration funds were informally presented to me, almost word for word with the current proposal, by Mimi Findlay. So for about 6 years , the organization has had the opportunity to pursue, on its own, a firm package of who will lease the building, and the committed source of donations. There is no reason to believe they will be any more successful in the future than they were in the past 6 years. Rip the building down, it has no place in a Mead Park.

  5. Peter — The energy that’s being expended on this is very germane to New Canaan’s fiscal issues. The NCPA has proposed and lined up private, foundation and state money to take this asset off the New Canaan tax payers’ back and have it be self sufficient. BTW, not that it has been any kind of expense or burden before because of decades of neglect! The right thing to do would be to let the NCPA activate their plan, let the Barn contribute again. No matter how you feel about the Barn, I think it’s up to you to justify spending the $65K (?) demolition costs. Does New Canaan have a dearth of Open Space?

  6. The plan for “private funding and grants” had been floated years ago when the First Selectman was Jeb Walker. That plan for private, foundation and state money all disappeared once Jeb Walker withdrew the Towns demo permit. We have many buildings in New Canaan that need attention. I certainly don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade but what happened to all the support and grants that were going to be used years go to stabilize and maintain this building. Nothing was raised or done and now it has just deteriorated over the additional years. Additionally, unless the town and neighbors are going to allow a PZ zoning change for park property the gas depot cannot be used for commercial purposes. This “Barn” is not going to contribute or ever be able to pay for itself. All the concerned citizens who wish ” to save” this depot should raise all the money needed to restore and endow this structure NOW.

  7. Arnold — Are you talking about something from nearly 10 years ago? Too bad, there wasn’t help then. As you probably know – things change. In current day speak – it can’t be saved, restored & funded while the demo order is in place. Is there something you would prefer to see in that space?

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