Amy Murphy Carroll

Recent Articles

UPDATED: Community Forum on ‘The Future of Town-Owned Buildings’ To Be Scheduled

[Note:  Originally scheduled for March, this forum will be held some time after budget season. We apologize for any inconvenience.]

The Town of New Canaan in partnership with NewCanaanite.com will present a community-wide forum on “The Future of Town-Owned Buildings.”

Panelists will include:

Town Council Chairman John Engel
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan
Town Building Evaluation & Use Committee Co-Chair and Board of Finance member Amy Murphy Carroll
Architectural preservationist Marty Skrelunas

The forum will be held at Town Hall, moderated by NewCanaanite.com owner and editor Michael Dinan. Refreshments will be served. New Canaan is working toward major decisions about the uses and futures of town-owned buildings. A selectmen-appointed committee in December produced an in-depth review of some 50 such structures in New Canaan, including recommendations in many cases about what could be done with them. Right now, elected and appointed officials are weighing decisions about spending money next fiscal year to study or alter buildings in ways that could rearrange not just where municipal departments are located but whether some buildings continue under town ownership or exist at all. Continue Reading →

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Citing Need for Decision on Future Use, Finance Board Puts Off $50,000 Study of Former Outback Building

Saying that the town first must decide how the building will be used, members of New Canaan’s funding bodies decided last week to put off a vote on $50,000 in studies that would be needed in order to make repairs and code-compliant upgrades to the former Outback Teen Center building. It’s too early to discuss an investment in architectural and engineering plans for what some now call the ‘Town Hall Annex’ when its future use remains unclear, Board of Finance members Todd Lavieri and George Blauvelt said at the group’s regular meeting, held Tuesday at Town Hall. Town Councilman Steve Karl voiced that thought during the legislative body’s regular meeting the following night. “This is about a building and about a hardship, basically, that the town inherited—we inherited what amounts to a dilapidated barn and we need to figure out what is a post-and-beam barn that is 17 years old with two bathrooms, how much is a couple of bathrooms and a barn worth?” Karl said at the meeting, held at Town Hall. “And there is no property underneath it, because it’s the town’s property. Continue Reading →

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Board of Finance to Keep 2 Percent Budget Increase as ‘Strong Guideline’ for Town Departments

Members of the Board of Finance on Tuesday night discussed the effectiveness of an October memo instructing all departments to present their budget proposals for next fiscal year with no more than a 2 percent budget increase, especially in light of Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi last week opened Board of Education budget talks with a request for a 3.5 percent increase. Finance board member Colleen Baldwin said during the group’s regular meeting that while there were discussions before the memo was sent about making the 2 percent a “hard number,” the idea was eventually scrapped “for this very reason.”

Instead, she said that the number was “put out as a starting discussion” with a strong suggestion that the budgets should be presented with “no more than 2 percent.”

But member Thomas Schulte questioned whether the departments are taking the memo seriously enough, considering the financials challenges that the both the town and the state are facing in the coming years and urged the board to bring up these concerns at department meetings. “We tried to do our best to share with them the concerns that we had,” he said at the meeting, held at Town Hall. “I think that the world is very different. It is a more expensive one for people to pay their state and local taxes [in]…and we can’t ignore that, and I think [in terms of] real world budgeting, all of the departments need to be aware of that—whether they’re halfway or all the way through creating their budgets. Continue Reading →

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Town Council Members Mull Using ‘Outback’ Building To House Alternative High School Program

The superintendent of schools on Wednesday night presented a subcommittee of New Canaan’s legislative body with details of a proposal to create an “alternative high school” program for students with specific health challenges in New Canaan to be housed at the former Outback Teen Center behind Town Hall. Dr. Bryan Luizzi and Assistant Superintendent of Pupil and Family Services Darlene Pianka outlined their vision for a program to replace New Canaan High School’s current Afternoon Instructional Program, or ‘AIP,’ which is held in the school’s media center. AIP is currently only available to four to 10 upperclassmen at a time, while Luizzi’s proposal will potentially provide full- or half-day instruction for six to 12 students in grades 8-12 based on their educational and therapeutic needs, they told members of the Town Council’s Education Committee. The idea of locating the alternative high school at Outback had been broached with a town committee in November and the program itself was presented to the Board of Education on Monday as part of the approximately $90.7 million proposed budget for New Canaan Public Schools next year. Throughout Luizzi and Pianka’s presentation, Education Committee members Tom Butterworth, Rich Townsend, Joe Paladino and Christa Kenin raised questions about the potential costs of the program and the suitability of the Outback as the program’s physical site. Continue Reading →

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Editorial: A Disputed FOI Question Regarding ‘Illegal Meetings’

In February, the Board of Selectmen appointed a seven-member committee and tasked it with one of the most consequential jobs assigned to a municipal body: Study the physical condition, uses and capital needs of all 56 town-owned buildings in New Canaan (except the school district’s) and report back to the town. As a one-person news operation, I often make difficult decisions about what to cover, and forgo coverage of entire boards or commissions—I rarely covered the Charter Revision Commission, for example, never go to Deer Committee meetings and did not cover the Playhouse Committee after its second meeting. But the Town Building Evaluation & Use Committee—an advisory body—was to make recommendations (in a report originally scheduled for September delivery) with wide implications for the town, including whether to raze, sell, invest in or use differently buildings such as Waveny House, Vine Cottage, the former Outback Teen Center and Irwin House. I decided to attend every meeting I could and report back to our readers on what they were discussing. My goal was to clue people in as to the committee’s thought process as its work unfolded. Continue Reading →

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