New Canaan Family Tradition Continues with Appointment of Katie (Franco) O’Neill to Parking Commission 


Elm Street in New Canaan, December 2021. Laura Ault photo

A family tradition in New Canaan is set to continue with the appointment last week of a local woman to the Parking Commission.

The Board of Selectmen voted 3-0 at its Feb. 5 meeting to appoint Katie O’Neill, née Franco, to the volunteer body.

O’Neill’s father had served on the Parking Commission and her brother, Rick, served for decades prior to stepping down in 2020. 

Selectman Steve Karl said, “On Katie, I feel a full circle because my career in service started with her older brother, Rick, on the Parking Commission.”

“I served with Rick on the Parking Commission for years before going onto the [Town] Council,” he continued at the meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. “And Katie’s a Franco, so she’s lived here her whole life and has intimate knowledge of parking and the way everything works in town. So ‘Thank you’ to her for stepping up and offering her time, because knowing the history of that family and how much they’ve given downtown and the time it’s really neat to have another Franco involved in the Parking Commission.”

One of New Canaan’s great business families, the Francos—as owners and operators of an Elm Street business that’s been in place since that street was called ‘Railroad Avenue’—long have brought a unique and useful perspective on parking downtown.

O’Neill, an employee of New Canaan Public Schools in accounts payable for 20-plus years, said in raising her hand for the Commission that she is “both familiar with and interested in the Commission’s work” due to the family’s legacy of serving on it.

“Issues of the downtown village are important to me, and parking is central to the vitality of our community,” O’Neill said on her resume, available in the public packet for the Feb. 6 meeting. “I am a good listener, congenial team-player, and open to new ideas.”

She joins Nancy Bemis, Kevin Karl (one of Steve and Tracey’s sons), Drew Magratten and Marley Thackray on the Parking Commission. The group has had an open slot since Jennifer Donovan stepped down after moving out of town.

The Parking Commission recommends permit rates and fees, adjudicates parking ticket appeals and advises the selectmen on off-street parking matters. 

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