‘Our Flagpole Should Not Be a Speech Mechanism’: Selectmen Pass New ‘Flag Policy’ for Town Buildings

New Canaan’s highest elected official this week instituted a new “flag policy” for town buildings. 

First Selectman Dionna Carlson in introducing a draft policy Tuesday for the full Board of Selectmen to review noted that it wouldn’t apply to school buildings. Carlson said that during her first week in office she “had an individual come up to me and asked to fly another country’s liberation flag.”

“And I guess my predecessor allowed a week of flying that flag,” Carlson said at a regular Board meeting, held in Town Hall and via videoconference. 

“And I feel very strongly that the only flags that should be flown in municipal buildings are the American flag, the state of Connecticut flag and any town flag,” she continued. “I was thinking about school flags, and I really do believe that those should be reserved for the schools. The other thing that I’m trying to avoid is who gets to fly what flag when?…  If we did the school flags at the municipality, do we fly it for a football win? Then do we fly it for every debate [team] win?

‘I Don’t Want Town Funds Being Used for This’: Carlson Pushes Back on Contract for Stanchion Repair

Town officials decided Tuesday to wait for an insurance claim to be processed prior to repairing a low painted brick column that marks the start of a public road near the Merritt Parkway. One of the two columns located at the start of White Birch Road—opposite the off-ramp from Merritt Parkway Exit 37 northbound—was struck and damaged by a vehicle in December, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. The “stanchion” is in the public right-of-way and helps delineate White Birch, a residential street, for motorists exiting the parkway, Mann told members of the Board of Selectmen at their regular meeting by way of seeking approval of a $5,350 contract to repair it. Yet New Canaan’s highest elected official pushed back on spending taxpayer dollars on the project. “I’m just going to throw it out there: Why are we reconstructing this?” First Selectman Dionna Carlson said during the meeting, held in Town Hall and via videoconference.

Town Approves $100,000 in Contracts for New Fitness Area at Waveny

Town officials last week approved three contracts for the installation of a widely anticipated new outdoor fitness area at Waveny this summer, replacing existing equipment that’s broken down. The Board of Selectmen during its regular meeting Tuesday voted 3-0 in favor of the contracts, a total of $96,894. 

The new fitness area will be located just east of the existing one, making room for a brand-new children’s playground area that’s planned for the same site—the grassy, tree-strewn island that abuts the Orchard Field parking lot at the park. Parks and Recreation Director John Howe told the selectmen that local landscape architect Keith Simpson is drawing up a design that includes trees and plants to clearly cordon off the two areas. “And even though we’re using colors that are neutral in nature—the tans and browns and grays—we still want to shield it off,” Howe said at the meeting, held in Town Hall and via videoconferencel

Referring to the playground committee’s plan to have the playground areas further off the main road through Waveny, he said, “And we don’t want people stopping on the edge of the road, dropping off kids or anything like that.”

First Selectman Dionna Carlson and Selectmen Steve Karl and Amy Murphy Carroll voted 3-0 in favor of the contracts: GameTime MRC Equipment ($50,544 for “The Gladiator” fitness equipment), $20,315 for Pat Corsetti Inc. for installation and $26,035 for Rubber Recycle for a tan Poured-In-Place surface, according to Ryan Restivo, assistant parks superintendent in the Department of Public Works. The playground itself—a project led by a volunteer committee that includes Monica Capela, Hilary Ormond and Lauren Connolly Nussbaum—will be finalized and installed following community input and fundraising.

Selectmen Criticize Effectiveness, Aesthetics of Pedestrian-Activated Flashing Beacons

The Board of Selectmen at its most recent meeting approved a contract with a Newtown-based company for pedestrian-activated flashing beacons on Gower Road at South School and Elm Street at Kimberly Place. Motorists are “not necessarily paying attention to the students in the crosswalk” or crossing guards and monitors at South School trying to ensure their safety, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. “We put in additional ‘no parking’ signs to try to free up the area and we’re still having a problem,” Mann told the selectmen at their March 5 meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. There also are many people on Kimberly Place who seek to cross Elm Street at the intersection, he said. “It’s been a longstanding request,” Mann said.