Op-Ed: First Selectman Candidate Kit Devereaux on Maintaining New Canaan’s ‘Physical Plant’

As the election field becomes more crowded, I wanted to take the opportunity to start a dialogue about one of the important issues facing New Canaan: the stewardship of New Canaan’s physical plant.

Kit Devereaux, longtime New Canaanite and Democrat, is running for first selectman in 2017. Credit: Michael Dinan

For decades, New Canaan has failed to maintain its assets. And by ignoring routine maintenance, those issues, year-by-year, have and will become major projects, edging from the operating side of the budget over to the capital side.

I realize that we have a superintendent of buildings; that the town will start using a sophisticated computer program for facility management, that we have a committee charged with the evaluation and use of town buildings. Some will say that we need to wait until the Town Building Evaluation and Use Committee has finished its work.

I would counter that argument because, short of tearing a building down, routine maintenance is crucial, even if “sale” is the outcome. Consider that after all this time and study, the Teen Center still has post beetles, the Merrie Bee building in Kiwanis Park still needs a new roof, and the Vine Cottage hasn’t been painted in 18 years, and the list goes on.

Interestingly, many neighboring municipalities employ plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and other workmen to maintain their buildings. These employees perform regular maintenance on buildings before that maintenance turns into capital projects. There is a reasonable argument to outsource capital building projects, but certainly not maintenance.

I would like to see a cost-benefit assessment as to whether the investment that other towns have made in maintenance employees could make a difference to New Canaan’s over-burdened capital budget. Remember the adage: A stitch in time saves nine.

Kit Devereaux

Democratic candidate for first selectman

4 thoughts on “Op-Ed: First Selectman Candidate Kit Devereaux on Maintaining New Canaan’s ‘Physical Plant’

  1. Kit Devereaux she’s so right they don’t maintain the what they have or the repair half — they’re more into walking paths.

  2. Could the teen center be moved to Kiwanis Park? The girl scouts and the other organization could use it there. Perhaps it could replace the Merrie Bee, which would be a huge and much needed upgrade.

  3. The town owns too much property that is not core to its mission (think schools, police fire, roads, parks). This property has been acquired over the years in random fashion, often without a clear idea of costs and benefit, short and long term. We need to focus on what is central, like Waveny Park and reevaluate whether we should spend large amounts on things like the Outback, the Vine Cottage and the Playhouse. Other large capital projects loom, such as parking and the fire station, which is outdated. Taxpayers do not have infinite resources.

  4. RE: Could the teen center be moved to Kiwanis Park? The girl scouts and the other organization could use it there. Perhaps it could replace the Merrie Bee, which would be a huge and much needed upgrade.

    Kiwanis Park does not have any room for such a structure. The front lot is utilized for parking throughout the year and the Exchange Club Tree Sale. The back lot is in a flood plain and gets saturated during storms. The Merrie Bee Cabin is slated to get roof repairs.

    Finally, my understanding from reading articles and watching the BoS meetings is that The Outback cannot be moved.

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