‘It’s Like Someone Screaming ‘Fire’ in the Movie Theater When There Is No Fire’: Teen Center Found To Be Safe After Review by Its Builders

Town officials said Tuesday that a new inspection of the former Outback Teen Center—shuttered for two months after an engineering firm had found it structurally unsound—shows that the building only needs relatively minor cosmetic work to make it usable. What that use may be remains a major, open question, after a nonprofit organization that had operated out of the 2001-built teen center failed to self-sustain and—following an aborted effort by a second group—handed it over to the town July 1. Yet the dramatic July 19 report from a Danbury-based firm—a report that Selectman Beth Jones said cost her sleep after reading it, as the study painted a picture a building that presented a danger to the New Canaan teens and others it was designed to serve—now appears to have drawn wrong conclusions. “It’s like someone screaming ‘fire’ in the movie theater when there is no fire,” Jones said at a regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen, held at Town Hall. “The engineering firm that first gave us that [report] should have said, ‘We are not qualified to do this, this is not the kind of building we do,’ or we should hold them responsible for a completely false report,” Jones said.