‘A Very Good Investment for Our Community’: Town Could Help Library Acquire Key Final Property for Rebuilding Plan

The town stands to benefit aesthetically, culturally and otherwise if New Canaan Library in planning its rebuilt facility has a properly sized and configured parcel with which to work, officials said Tuesday. Because of setback regulations, a major gateway into the New Canaan at South Avenue and Maple Street realistically could only serve as a parking lot unless the library is able to acquire a key .19-acre property on its block, the town’s highest elected official said during a meeting of the Board of Finance. So if it’s feasible and residents and town officials support the idea, New Canaan ought to consider helping the library purchase that property, according to First Selectman Rob Mallozzi, who serves as chairman of the finance board. “There is an opportunity for this town to demonstrate to our library what we think and be a partner in their vision that I think is fundamental for the success of this community,” Mallozzi said during the finance board’s regular meeting, held at Town Hall. Doing so would bolster “the look and feel of the community as you approach our downtown village, and, I think, truly jumpstart a capital campaign to the library that would lead to a phenomenal facility over the next few years.”

He added: “I think it would be a very good investment for our community.”

That investment, if it’s made, remains some months away, according to finance board member Neil Budnick.

‘More Than a Career’: New Canaan’s Buzz Kanter and His Motorcycles

New Canaan resident Buzz Kanter purchased his first antique motorcycle around 1986—a BSA M20, from a man selling three of the classic World War II bikes in the pit of a racetrack in New Hampshire. Though only in his early-30s at the time, the Stamford native already was a veteran of New England’s motorcycle scene and circuit. A decade earlier, Kanter had walked away from high-speed racing following an accident on a track in Bridgehampton, N.Y.: A fellow racer, who would spend six months in hospital, crashed into him as they headed into a corner at 130 mph. “I finished the season and said, ‘I’m done,’ ” Kanter, 60, recalled Thursday morning from the gallery at Carriage Barn Arts Center, standing near one of the vintage motorcycles he has acquired since that day in 1986. “And I started playing with antique bikes.

Va Va Vroom: Carriage Barn Arts Center Embraces, Celebrates Waveny Heritage in Upcoming Exhibition

Since starting as co-directors of the Carriage Barn Arts Center 18 months ago, Eleanor Flatow and Arianne Kolb have noted how visitors to the Carriage Barn gallery react strongly when they learn of its original function at Waveny. Though locals tend to know well the grounds, mansion and individual outbuildings at the park, Kolb said, the way that those pieces fit together and tell the story of the Lapham family—the longtime owners of the property through the first half of the 20th Century, who kept horses, carriages and cars in the Barn—animates the familiar landscape and structures in new, profound ways. “When we explain what the space was used for, people have an ‘a-ha’ moment, where it makes sense in the bigger picture,” Kolb said. Starting next month, Carriage Barn Arts Center/New Canaan Society for the Arts will pay homage to that heritage in a new exhibition. “Va Va Vroom!

$60,000 Restored to Proposed IT Spending for New Canaan Public Schools

Finance officials on Tuesday restored $60,000 to New Canaan Public Schools’ proposed spending plan in information technology. Saying that the funds, $15,000 per year under a four-year equipment lease—the equivalent of 90 computers—“sounds like an awful lot” to ask the district to do without, Board of Finance member Jim Kucharczyk at the group’s regular meeting urged the group to restore the money. “I think it is $15,000 well spent and I think the implications of pulling 90 systems out of the schools would have a negative impact on the program that we offer our kids,” Kucharczyk said at the meeting, held in the Sturgess Room at New Canaan Nature Center. The finance board voted 9-0 in favor of restoring the funds as the group approved a proposed municipal budget for fiscal year 2016. The overall spending plan now is in the hands of the Town Council, which is scheduled to set a final budget at its April 1 meeting.

‘It’s Pretty Sobering’: Future of Playhouse Uncertain

New Canaan would need to spend some $2.1 million—with an estimated $450,000 beyond that, for abatement—in order to bring the Playhouse Theatre on Elm Street to safe, structurally sound and ADA-compliant condition, public works officials said Tuesday. The 1923 building needs parts of its roof and brick exterior replaced ($550,00), an elevator and ADA-compliant wheelchair access ($1,120,000), new gutters and drainage system ($200,000) and, perhaps most of all, a new layout for its sprinkler system—currently perched above a layer of insulation in the ceiling, according to Michael Pastore, director of the New Canaan Department of Public Works. “If the sprinklers come on, it’s going to soak that insulation, get heavy and probably bring down the ceiling,” Pastore said while presenting DPW’s budget request (see page 39 here) to the Board of Finance at a meeting held in the Sturgess Room of the New Canaan Nature Center. “That’s the situation we have.”

The figures above do not include contaminant abatement for any capital work needed—Pastore said a consultant hired to assess the structure last year put the figure at $450,000, strictly based on the Town Hall renovation. “It could be more, it could be less,” he said.