New Canaan Eyes Road Safety on God’s Acre [VIDEO]



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[Note: This video was shot during the 9 a.m. drop-off on March 12.]

Prompted by safety concerns from a popular preschool, town officials are contemplating how to slow down motorists zipping along Oenoke Ridge at the turn near God’s Acre.

Toddlertime Nursery School operates out of space behind the Congregational Church of New Canaan. At drop-off and pickup times, parents either pull off of Oenoke and park street-side at the top of the hill—in front of the church—or pull into a lot behind the church that lets out onto Oenoke opposite the Historical Society (the lot operates with one-way traffic flow).

At the most recent meeting of a group of public works, police and fire officials that fields residents’ requests for traffic calming, Toddlertime co-owner Barbara Davis said the preschool faces two challenges.

First, there’s no safe way to walk across Oenoke—for example, if a group of preschoolers are headed for a field trip to the New Canaan Nature Center, or if there’s a parent walking a child across Oenoke from a program at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church.

Second, it’s difficult for motorists exiting the lot to turn left onto Oenoke because the cars coming up the hill appear suddenly.

“I think people are coming up the hill pretty fast,” Davis said at the February meeting, suggesting the possibility of a mirror for motorists.

Members of the Traffic Calming Work Group said that could help, or that the flow of traffic in the lot may be reversed, so that cars enter from Oenoke and exit onto Park Street.

The pedestrian problem is more tricky. As it stands now, the only way someone could walk from Toddlertime to, say, the Fire Department, would be to walk right onto Park, cross near Seminary and then head left down the other side of God’s Acre.

Nobody does that.

St. Michael’s pastor, the Rev. Geoff Sinibaldo, said that rail commuters who live in the Heritage Hill Road condos regularly cut through the back of the church and walk across Oenoke at the top of the hill in order to take the most direct route to the train station.

Work Group member Jim Cole noted that Oenoke is a state road (Route 124) and a mid-street crosswalk likely wouldn’t be approved.

Police Capt. John DiFederico balked at the idea of a crosswalk in any case, because it may cause a false sense of safety for a pedestrian while motorists wouldn’t expect it.

Cole said a designated parent in reflective gear and toting a stop sign paddle may be a safer, more effective way to shepherd children across the busy road as needed.

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