The Mead Park Brick Barn debate should focus on New Canaan taxpayers. Should we underwrite the cost of preserving the Barn in perpetuity? Most would say no.
The New Canaan Preservation Alliance claims that its September 12 proposal “Eliminates all Town costs related to [the] Barn.” That’s what taxpayers want to hear. But the claim would be true only if the State of Connecticut continues grant and tax credit programs at current levels for several years, if the State approves the full amount of NCPA submissions in each of three consecutive years, and if private donations are sufficient to defray any short-term and long-term maintenance costs not funded by the State.
That’s a lot of “ifs.” They add up to significant financial risks to future taxpayers. For how long? Once the first of several proposed grants is made, the State would expect the property to remain in place for the long term, perhaps for 35 years. Even if the State money dries up after the initial grant, the Town could be on the hook for decades.
Much has been made of the fact that six Town Council members voted in May against funding the immediate demolition of the Barn. I was one of the six. My vote was intended to ensure that the NCPA had a final opportunity to present a comprehensive proposal. Now they have.
The creativity, professionalism and dedication of the New Canaan Preservation Alliance should be applauded. They did the best anyone could with the resources available. Now it’s time to move on.