Public Works: State Reviewing Town’s Plan for Bristow Park Entrance Along Route 106


Bristow Bird Sanctuary on Dec. 11, 2022. Credit: Michael Dinan

State officials currently are reviewing New Canaan’s plan to create a more pedestrian- and motor vehicle-friendly entrance to Bristow Park from Route 106/Old Stamford Road, according to the head of the town Department of Public Works.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation is reviewing the plan “for an encroachment permit,” Public Works Director Tiger Mann told members of the New Canaan Conservation Commission at their Feb. 19 meeting.

“Since it’s along 106 inside their [the state’s] right-of-way they have to approve it,” Mann said at the meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. “And that includes a pull-off or dropoff area for school buses, and then parking spaces, one disabled space and several other standard spaces.”

Plans shared by Mann show one disabled space and four standard spaces.

His comments came during a general update for the Commission. 

The town in recent years has made a number of improvements at Bristow—one of the oldest bird sanctuaries in the nation, officials say—ahead of a planned centennial celebration in 2024. 

In 2021, the town approved contracts for the design of a sidewalk extension from the corner of Park Street and Route 106 to the Bristow entrance, along the north side of the state road, as well as the parking area. 

After the DOT issues the encroachment permit, the town will go to bid on the project and “that is a three- to four-week process,” Mann said.

“It goes to the Board of Selectmen for approval, and we set up a notice of award with a start date and he [the contractor] works from there. So post-encroachment permit approval is quite quick.”

Obtaining the encroachment permit itself “takes the lion’s share of time sometimes,” Mann said.

“They want to make sure that all of their standards are being upheld and we’ve done our due diligence on the design,” he said. “It only travels in front of a couple of houses, so the review for the couple of houses shouldn’t be that extensive.”

A second phase of the same sidewalk extension will see it continue to Gower Road and Route 106, Mann said. The survey work is nearly complete for that phase, and the design will follow, he said.

Meanwhile, the town also is seeking to improve a pedestrian walkway in Mead Park that doubles as a path to Gamble Field, a little league baseball field, and “rear” entrance to Bristow Park. Federal officials following an investigation last year cited the town for dozens of barriers to access at public facilities throughout New Canaan, including the pedestrian route to Gamble Field.

The town is working on a plan for the area that will include the small rise in back of Gamble that leads into Bristow.

We need to do more survey work,” Mann said. “In essence it was an access road for our parks and public works vehicles to get down to the baseball field in the back, so we are going to make those ADA-compliant to try and tie into the fields themselves and try to make the grade a little bit more forgiving for anyone that wants to visit Bristow. The monies for that are in our fiscal year ‘24 proposed budget in our Parks Department. So we have monies for the design. We do not have monies yet for the construction.” (DPW currently is seeking the construction funds, about $150,000, in the budget process for next fiscal year.)

The new path likely will be Flexi-pave material, the same as in Irwin Park, though it’s unclear how much of the footpath will be covered. Mann said it hopefully will get to the top of the slope leading into Bristow. Additional work also is needed for the embankment wall between the park and Metro-North Railroad tracks above, he said.

“There’s a substantial amount of work that needs to be done in that area,” he said.

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