A newly appointed committee on Wednesday identified and discussed eight town-owned structures that New Canaan may no longer need in its portfolio.
The town has 62 total buildings or structures that require some level of maintenance, according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan. The figure does not include school district buildings.
Some of them are “possibly expendable,” Moynihan said during the first meeting of the Selectmen’s Advisory Committee on Buildings and Infrastructure.
“All of these buildings are used for some town function, so even though there are a lot of buildings—New Canaan has a lot of buildings—they all have a purpose,” he said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. “And some of them are not totally utilized in terms of their capacity. So when we talk about buildings, of the 62 structures, I only count eight that could either be disposed of or demolished.”
They are the Vine Cottage next to Town Hall, potting shed at Waveny, main house and guest apartment at Irwin Park, residence in Kiwanis Park and greenhouse, antique greenhouse and former Audubon House at the New Canaan Nature Center.
“Obviously, we all know the Irwin Park main house sits there along with the Irwin Park garage, unused,” Moynihan said. “That could be swing space when we renovate the Police Department. But otherwise that house is not being used. We have recently vacated the Kiwanis Park house, that building could be demolished unless we find another purpose for it. The Audubon House at the Nature Center sits as a relic, though it is perhaps somewhat historic.”
Committee member Penny Young, a Town Council member, asked whether the New Canaan Land Trust was interested in taking over the Audubon House.
Moynihan said there’s been some discussion around that possibility but nothing formal or firm has materialized.
“But if they are willing to assume responsibility in perpetuity, would we want them to do that?” Young said. “And I guess, encourage their decision on it. Otherwise let’s get rid of it.”
Moynihan proposed creation of the committee last month, saying it would include specialists such as contractors and architects and would advise the Board on projects such as major roadway renovation, bridges, school roofs and solar installations. Last week, the Board of Selectmen appointed six members to the committee. In addition to Young, they are George Blauvelt (from the Board of Finance), Neil Budnick (Board of Finance), Penny Rashin (Board of Education) and Stuart Sawabini, a former Police Commissioner.
In addition to those members, including Rashin who participated by phone, those attending the meeting included Department of Public Works, Finance and Building officials.
Moynihan was unanimously elected chair during the meeting.
In at least two cases, buildings noted as disposable properties appear to have new uses planned, officials said. The potting shed at Waveny could be converted into a bathroom for park users or office space for the Town Players of New Canaan, and the Nature Center is “thinking of repurposing” the large greenhouse.
“When we talk about all of these buildings as far as disposing of them, there are not that many candidates to dispose or demolish—some of these we can talk about in terms of utilization,” he said.