Uploaded by Michael Dinan on 2015-09-12.
Scores of New Canaanites ventured downtown Saturday to attend an official dedication of the newly renovated and expanded Town Hall, a widely anticipated project totaling about $18 million that in recent weeks has seen municipal departments reassemble under a single roof for the first time in nearly two years.
Members of the volunteer group that steered and oversaw the project to its completion, Town Hall Building Committee III—Michael Anthony, Chairman (and new father-in-law) Michael Avgerinos, Neil Budnick, Kathleen Corbet, John Goodwin, Vice Chairman Randy Salvatore and Rob Mallozzi—officially welcomed the community to its spick-and-span government building with a ribbon-cutting out front.
Mallozzi, New Canaan’s first selectman, called it a “fabulous day for our community.”
“Lots of smiles on display,” Mallozzi said.
“The celebration of the preservation and addition to our Town Hall will be a special memory for all of us. And the greatest part was giving a gentleman a tour of our offices and the Board Room who, because of a disability, could never have reached the second floor in our former Town Hall. That was the moment for me.”
The new building is ADA-compliant and, though completely updated and modern, preserves the historic character of the original 1909 structure, designed by celebrated architect Edgar Alonzo Josseyln after he’d won a competition for the right to do so, historians say (by then he’d already designed what’s now called the “Old Town Hall” of Stamford). Outside the building, and thanks largely to the New Canaan Beautification League, lovingly landscaped grounds are taking root—including a sugar maple tree that honors the memory of longtime DPW worker Ben Olmstead. Inside, many of Town Hall’s walls are adorned by WPA-era paintings of New Canaan, including many that had been in storage even prior to the expansion and renovation. All areas of the original Town Hall have been renovated and updated, and the new addition provides ample room for town departments and features a skylight in an atrium/lobby as well as a new Town Hall Meeting Room.
Municipal workers, downtown visitors and residents, including volunteers on a number of boards and commissions in towns, bested on-and-off-again rain to join members of the Building Committee on tours. Mallozzi said he “could not speak more highly” of the committee members as well as professionals and Town Hall support staff.
“Chairman Avgerinos was such an inspiration to all of us—just a great group to be associated with,” Mallozzi said.
One member of the Building Committee, Corbet, told NewCanaanite.com in an email that she was “grateful to have played a small role in the restoration and modernization of our wonderful Town Hall, which honors the past and is well-positioned to continue to serve our community for many generations to come.”
The committee and construction workers in delivering a project that was on time and budget (actually about $100,000 under budget), persevered through many months of tough weather and some surprises, such as a water main issue, and questions about the addition’s exterior brick, access road, chillers, access for dogs and restrooms. In the weeks that the reopening of Town Hall approached, even a failing Norway maple tree on its front lawn emerged as a contentious matter among some residents.
Yet the Building Committee persevered and Town Councilman Steve Karl, a 1980 New Canaan High School graduate who lives in town and owns a 1927-established business here, called the moment when Mallozzi cut the ribbon “very historic and symbolic.”
“When one reflects back over the years and considers the amount of time and planning through four administrations (Dick Bond, Judy Neville, Jeb Walker and Rob Mallozzi’s) and three town hall building committees, it really is a proud moment for community,” Karl said in an email.
“The new building is beautiful inside, and keeping the historic façade intact on Main Street is what the town said it wanted, and the committee delivered on that promise and much more. Mike Avgerinos has done extraordinary work over the years to make our town a beautiful place to live and work—he was instrumental in the initial installation of brick sidewalks and lampposts throughout town among many other projects—and as a town we own him our gratitude and praise for all his hard work, as well as the thousands of hours he has donated. We are very fortunate and blessed to have the caliber of volunteers willing to step up to the plate to contribute their time, energy and expertise to these projects despite having families, busy lives and countless other commitments.”
Karl called the Town Hall Building Committee’s work “amazing” and cited the old adage about how “It takes a village.”
“I couldn’t be any prouder of ours today,” Karl said.