‘I Don’t Think the Public Knows’: Police Commission Calls for Renovation of NCPD Headquarters

Though it may look perfectly fine to those driving past on South Avenue, the New Canaan Police Department building has defective plumbing, mold, crumbling masonry, 16 broken windows, a leaking skylight, a sewer fly problem in the men’s locker room, loose and broken tiles in the women’s and poor or non-existent ventilation throughout, officials said Wednesday. Two of four men’s jail cells have been closed due to plumbing issues, Police Chief Leon Krolikowski said during a regular meeting of the Police Commission, and the old-style cell bars in them also must be replaced with flat plexiglass doors because prisoners have tried to hang themselves by the bars. 

Several offices in the building are not connected to its centralized HVAC system, and 48 windows require hardware that’s no longer available because the windows themselves are so old, he said. “There is moisture in some rooms—that’s not a good thing,” Krolikowski said during the meeting, held in the training room at police headquarters. “Ventilation in processing areas is nonexistent and we often get narcotic smells in our hallways due to evidence storage and no way to ventilate that.”

The comments came during a general update to the Commission, as the police building itself—though multiple town bodies have acknowledged the pressing need for renovation—sits as-is while town officials consider a complicated, multi-transaction proposal that would see the department relocated downtown (more on that below). “I don’t think the public knows any of this,” Police Commissioner Jim McLaughlin said, referring to the problems enumerated by the chief during his brief presentation.

Did You Hear … ?

New Canaan Public Schools as of Monday night had 273 kindergarten sign-ups for the fall, compared to 231 at the same time last year, district officials said during this week’s Board of Education meeting. ***

The company hired by the town last summer to address the rat problem behind The Playhouse on Elm Street, Stamford-based Aavon Pest Control Inc., charged New Canaan $145 per month for three months to tend its “rodent safety bait stations” and inspect for “rodent burrowing activity,” according to the agreement. ***

The Rotary Club of New Canaan is now taking applications for its 2019 Grant program. Applications will be taken from registered nonprofit organizations in New Canaan and neighboring areas in two categories only: “Health and Wellness” and “Education and Literacy.” The deadline for applications is April 5, and full details can be found by clicking on “Rotary Grant Application” under the “Club Documents” tab on the left side of the Rotary Club of New Canaan website. ***

Congratulations to New Canaan’s Jaime Sneddon and The Sneddon Team on earning recognition from William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty as the company’s top producing agent and top producing team, based on total closed volume for the year 2018.

New Construction Planned for West Road

The town on March 18 received an application to build a new 5,344-square-foot home on West Road. The house at 534 West Road is to include 5,344 square feet of living space, including five bedrooms and full bathrooms and two half-baths, according to the building permit application. Tax and building records show that the four-acre property had been purchased in May 2017 for $1,950,000 and that multiple permits have been obtained since then, including a permit issued last summer to renovate part of an existing house for an estimated $450,000. 

A full demolition permit had been obtained in June 2018, records show. The construction planned now is to cost about $1.4 million, according to the application. 

The contractor on the job is Altamura Homes of Greenwich and the architect is Robert Dean Architects of New Canaan, the application said.

Podcast: The Road Through Waveny

This week on ‘0684-Radi0’ (hit ‘Listen in Browser’ above on your smartphone), we review the history and significance of the main road through Waveny, which has come to bisect the beloved park in an important way. We talk to Caroline Garrity, chairman of the Waveny Park Conservancy, lifelong New Canaanite and longtime Town Councilman Steve Karl and local landscape architect Keith Simpson. 

This installment of 0684-Radi0 is sponsored by Fresh Green Light.

Police Commission: Let’s Take a Second Look at Parking Changes That Cost Elm Street 13 Spaces

Members of the Police Commission said Wednesday night that they’re willing to take a second look at a decision they made last summer to comply with a seldom-observed state law, leading to the elimination of 13 parking spaces on Elm Street. 

Prompted by a local attorney’s assertion that there appears to be a relevant 1950 opinion letter from the state attorney general and an appellate court case that could empower the town to find relief from the statute, commissioners said during their regular meeting that they would ask for a formal opinion from municipal counsel. New Canaan lost 13 spaces on Elm Street after a resident put town officials on formal notice about the town’s lack of compliance with a state law requiring a 25-foot buffer between crosswalks and parking spaces. Though local officials at the time asked transportation consultants and the state about what New Canaan might to do find a way out from under the restriction, no path to exemption materialized, and the Police Commission—the town’s on-street parking authority—voted 3-0 at its July 18 meeting to change Elm Street’s parking configuration. 

Merchants in the heart of New Canaan bemoaned the loss of parking. 

A guest at this week’s Commission meeting, Richard Stewart, said the change has upset him. Saying he’s seen a high number of vacant storefronts on Elm, Stewart told the Commission, “I know they are all under attack from Amazon and the Internet but in New Canaan that is such a vital thing for our town—we don’t have like Darien has a waterfront, we have the 100-acre cent er of town with the retail space and everybody comes in and it becomes a friendlier town.”

According to Stewart, an opinion issued by the Connecticut attorney general in 1950, one year after the statute in question took effect, could give municipalities the ability to pass an ordinance that allows them to get out from under the 25-foot rule. Stewart said he would investigate the option which while it “doesn’t have the power of law, still has power.”

He added that he found an appellate court case where a man fighting a $90 parking ticket was told by the court that he would have the ability to be exempted from the parking rule but that his city didn’t have an exemption on its own books, “so let’s make sure our town does that.”

Stewart said he would return at the Commission’s April 17 meeting with the information.