The town’s highest elected official said Tuesday that the town should consider paving an access road through the woods behind New Canaan High School to South Avenue.
Doing so could “improve the traffic flow around the high school” and help buses “getting out of the property more than one way,” according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan.
“We had a rather interesting discussion with [Town Councilmen] John Engel and Steve Karl the other day … as to whether or not—and I talked about this to the superintendent last week—whether we ought to be building this road as another access out of the high school to South Avenue anyway, regardless of whether we did a police station there,” Moynihan told members of the Selectmen’s Advisory Committee on Buildings and Infrastructure during their regular meeting, held via videoconference.
The comments came during a discussion of proposals to either renovate the existing police station at 174 South Ave. or build a new one somewhere else (a Saxe Middle School baseball field near the YMCA rose to “the top of the heap” among options for the latter, according to an architect hired by the town to study options).
The wooded parcel between NCHS and Saxe—sometimes referred to as Waveny’s “panhandle,” as it includes walking trails that connect to the park—runs along South Avenue from the corner of Farm Road.
Identified in the past by some as a good location for development—a proposal that faced strong opposition and was scuttled—the parcel is one of a handful that a team assembled by Moynihan had evaluated as a possible future police station site. Though Moynihan’s team said it prefers the Saxe ball field site, town officials have called for more details about the prospect of building a new NCPD on the parcel, along with the Locust Avenue Lot, Lumberyard Lot and mulch pile off of Lapham Road.
Moynihan noted during the meeting that another access road that runs south of the high school, past the water tower and toward the Orchard Field in Waveny, has “helped the traffic situation at the high school.”
Referring to the possibility of building a police station between NCHS and Saxe, Committee member Amy Murphy Carroll said the new access road “could be a project regardless of whether we place something there.”
Moynihan said, “That’s what I just said.”
The existing access road between the high school and Waveny, dubbed “Tiger Trail” for the town’s Public Works director, is gated and its use is limited.
I am truly amazed at the lack of foresight in wanting to put a road through the Waveny trai system. Hundreds of people use those trails to run, walk and cycle in town. When they paved and opened the new back parking lot at the high school, there was an immediate increase in traffic through Waveny. With some people using it as just another “cut through” town street. Waveny and all of its trail systems are the crown jewel of New Canaan. The park should be cherished and preserved. The powers that be remind me of an old Joni Mitchell song “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot” not smart.
Why go about this piecemeal? Let’s just start at the Merritt Parkway and pave everything from there to Farm Road in asphalt. We can build some very attractive cell phone towers to replace the trees.
It looks like the town has huge excess of money, and just don’t know what to do with them. All the roads are paved, all the streets are clean, all the debts are paid off. There is nothing else we can spend this money on.
If this is so, I have a suggestion – let’s cut property taxes instead of trees.
Another ridiculous proposal from Kevin. Why is he proposing to rip up the entrance to our town by destroying playing fields and hiking trails? I thought he was a proponent of open space but I guess not. Citizens have worked really hard to create places for healthy outdoor activities for people of all ages. Let’s not turn our backs on health and well-being in favor of asphalt and buildings.
Relax. Nobody is proposing paving over the Waveny woods. The two important early takeaways from the police station proposal was that we cherish the long expanse of green along South Avenue, and that we have a serious traffic problem at the corner of South Avenue and Farm Road. Every day dozens of students cut through those woods to cross to the YMCA and the Saxe fields. There is a crosswalk on a state highway. Twice a day dozens of busses take a right at the Farm Road intersection only to have to take an immediate left into the Saxe parking lot. This was less of a problem when the high school was built, and when Saxe was expanded, and when the YMCA was expanded, but now we are adding busses to solve school start times. We just spent several years studying the bus traffic at this intersection in order to get the kids a few more minutes of sleep. The town council even considered widening the intersection if it would make a difference. So, it should come as no surprise that we are looking for ways to reduce the traffic. Therefore, we asked the experts how we can mitigate this traffic problem and they told us that a narrow exit lane through those woods that connects to the Saxe entrance would have a minimal impact on the Waveny woods, would be safer for the kids crossing and good for the busses. So, we asked the experts to draw it and get us cost information so we can present it to the public and consider it properly.
Always reassuring to hear a government official tell constituents to “relax.”
Exactly -it’s when you should definitely not relax.
“I’m from the government and I’m hear to help” Ronald Reagan – The nine most terrifying words in the English language.
Councilor, paving over the Waveny woods in response to a perceived traffic problem (for ~15 minutes a day) is exactly what you’ve just described. It’s not that relaxing.
There is much bigger traffic problem in town – on Cherry/Main. Good luck trying to turn left from Cherry to Main in the middle of the day. You’ll ether wait forever, or have to turn on red light. And there is no need to pave anything to solve it, just add an arrow to the traffic llights.
Yet, somehow the biggest concern of townhall is Farm/South, where the traffic is not that bad most of the time.
Agreed. Additionally — accidents are waiting to happen as many drivers in that “left turn only” lane instead continue straight on Cherry (westbound) through Main. The traffic sign is hidden by a tree and the paint in the road needs a new coat. Unless addressed and fixed, this will be free entertainment for the folks congregating on the impending Library lawn/village green for many years to come.
I believe that New Canaan Library, Inc.’s (“NCLI”) proposed “Library Lawn” is a ruse.
I believe that this ruse is the preparation for a mixed use development from the eastern border of the New Canaan Gulf Station westward toward the Cherry Street/Main Street corner.
NCLI knows that it must first:
(i) ELIMINATE ENTIRELY one of the two best recognized New Canaan LANDMARKS: its own 1913 Library Building (NCLI’s longstanding icon/symbol/logo); and
(ii) regrade to flatten to the greatest degree this approximately one-third acre parcel.
Almost nobody noticed that the new spot zone that NCLI speciously got New Canaan Planning & Zoning Commission to approve enables NCLI and any other(s) that NCLI would sell or lease this parcel to to satisfy its/their parking needs within 500 feet of the new spot zone, including, without limitation on/in Town Of New Canaan muncipal parking facilities.
Oh! That includes Morse Court parking lot! Not just Center School parking lot…
And, almost nobody noticed that New Canaan’s P&Z Commission assidouously and entirely ignored its own, carefully crafted Village District Guidelines in reaching its specious approval of NCLI’s pathetic “Quasi Public Library” spot zone.
Please wake up New Canaanites.
Charles L. Robinson
Perhaps it is time for a group to put together a plan for how it could operate the existing 1913 building on a financially sustainable basis, and present it to the town.
There are grant programs that may be available for such an endeavor for example https://portal.ct.gov/DECD/Content/Historic-Preservation/02_Review_Funding_Opportunities/Grant-Opportunities/Historic-Restoration-Fund-Grants and I expect that various town leaders, as well as our Representatives in Hartford and Washington could be helpful.
The world of historic preservation grants is pretty large https://www.preservationdirectory.com/PreservationGeneralResources/GrantsFundingSources.aspx, and experts (of which I am not) could help you through the process.
Perhaps there is also significant potential for private donations from town residents and former residents who have spoken highly of this building.
The positive aspect of the changes in the zoning would indicate increased value for this ‘lot’ i.e. I presume any tenant of such a building would also have access to such granted parking spaces. Ultimately if the operations of the 1913 building were not financially successful much of the investments could be recouped through the value of that land and redevelopment possibilities as you indicated.
Nice to know we can “relax” now that we have been assured that the “experts” came up with a “narrow lane” through the woods. I am Guessing it would need to be wide enough to accommodate a car. These people need to get out and use our parks for what they were intended. Waveny and its trails are central to the quality of life in New Canaan.
While buses add to the congestion at the High School and Saxe, private autos driven by high school students add significantly to the crowded roads. Before widening and adding roads through the sacred ground of Waveny Park, why not simply charge students for the privilege of parking in the high school lot? The funds generated could be used to defray rapidly rising educational costs, and the reduction in traffic would benefit all.
They do have to pay.
It would appear that our elected Republican officials have rather short memories when it comes to appropriate use of this and surrounding Waveny PARK properties. Think back a few years to when Republican First Selectman Dick Bond wanted to put a new school administration building in that area which has been and will remain part of Waveny PARK.
A charge was led by the late “saint” Cam Hutchins with the moniker “HANDS OFF WAVENY’. The idea was soundly trounced in a referendum and also led to the beginning of Bond’s downfall when he was unendorsed by the bigwigs of his own Republican party.
It is in clear and legal language (an oxymoron if ever there was one) that that part of Waveny is a PARK and not to be used for anything else except jogging, walking, etc. … as checked with the States AG office. If part of the PARK is “stolen” for some other use like a road for school buses and students, an equal piece of property would be needed to replace it.
A new road would have to be two lanes wide plus a sidewalk plus a stop light at the South Ave end plus approval by the state DOT which takes a long time. Also, just think of the legal fees that could be eaten up for this activity!
More recently, Town Council person Penny Young and taxpayer Harry Rein proposed putting a CCRC (continuing care retirement community) in Wavey PARK
by the leaf mulch area. The citizen charge was led by Skip Hobbs under the banner of KEEP WAVENY A PARK! That CCRC idea was shot down by a Selectman’s (dominated by Republicans) committee before it could even reach a referendum.
I suspect “dozens of students” is on most days an exaggeration. Still, it’s too bad that the existing crosswalk does not align with the path the students take, so they are deprived of its intended protection and benefit. And it’s hard to see how their walk through the woods would be made safer by sharing it with motor vehicles instead of the occasional chipmunk. Plus there’s a good sized wetland that you can’t see from South Avenue, which would be bisected and filled by an accessway.
Meanwhile, since most buses using the proposed accessway would need to turn north on South Avenue (and back through the intersection) what will have been gained?
Paving a road through the middle of our Town’s Crown Jewel?
Nick- sounds like you are on our side as this one as well
The gate is locked so let’s build a road? As the last sentence of the article notes, there is already potential access to/from South Avenue via Tiger Trail; if we really need it, why don’t we just unlock the gate? I am not a fan of that approach, I personally think that slowing traffic around our schools at start and stop times is a good thing.
We need a break from new plans to pave stuff.
Agreed. How about we re-pave some of the existing roads in disrepair? Main Street is an embarrassment and parts of Oenoke are a wreck too with potholes. Fix the darn roads should be somebody’s campaign slogan.
I agree! Moynihan hasn’t addressed the horrible conditions of the roads in town left over from the Eversource gas upgrade. Winter is coming and they will only get worse. All his ideas recently have been hairbrained.