Officials: ‘Swap Shop’ Proposed for Transfer Station Waiting on Salt Storage Plans

Longstanding plans to install a volunteer-run “swap shop” at the Transfer Station are on hold pending a separate capital project at the site for a storage family for road salt, officials say. The fiscal year 2023 budget now under discussion includes $50,000 for a site and construction study of a planned “salt dome” at the Transfer Station, officials said during the Feb. 17 meeting of the New Canaan Conservation Commission. Pegged at $500,000 last year, the construction costs may well have increased since that time, Commission Chair Chris Schipper said during the group’s meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. 

Effortrs to put in a swap shop based on Darien’s successful model are “getting harder,” Schipper said. “Until they get the salt cellar, we’re not going to get anything,” he said.

Conservation Officials Consider 10K Running or Walking Event to Spotlight New Canaan’s ‘Greenlink’

Citing a successful model from Darien, local conservation officials say they’re thinking of launching a 10K running or walking event in New Canaan that would spotlight the town’s “green link” connecting public parks and the downtown via trails and sidewalks. 

Robin Bates-Mason, a Town Council member who sits on the legislative body’s Land Use and Parks & Recreation Committee, and also volunteers with local nonprofit organizations such as Planet New Canaan and the New Canaan Beautification League, said the Darien Land Trust uses an event to bring awareness to its properties around Darien. “It’s quite popular,” Bates-Mason said during last week’s meeting of the Conservation Commission, where she was a guest. Participants pay a $15 fee, she said. The appointed body’s chair, Chris Schipper, said it could be “an interesting project.”

“I like the idea of people walking and riding,” Schipper said during the Oct. 14 meeting, held via videoconference. 

Referring to his request on behalf of open space advocates to allocate a portion of a $6 million windfall in federal funds through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Schipper added, “And I have, in the course of discussing ARPA funds and allocations of funds, I’ve said we really have to promote walk-ability and bike-ability here in New Canaan and I think we have some support from [the Department of Public Works], we just have to get around some of these state road restrictions.”

“And I can tell you it drives me crazy I come up 106, regularly coming back from Greenwich, and I see young moms with a stroller walking alongside [Route] 106.

Ban on Bird Feeders Lifted

New Canaan residents can bring their bird feeders back outdoors again now that the  mysterious bird die-off that started in July has subsided. During the Conservation Commission’s Sept. 9 virtual meeting, Newell Cotton, a member of Friends of Bristow Bird Sanctuary and Wildwood Preserve, provided an update on the strange disease that resulted in a ban on bird feeding. Cotton said the mysterious affliction “was a concern during the summer—you probably saw the Connecticut Audubon’s communications regarding taking down feeders—but now they say feeders can go back up.”

Cotton said although the alarming trend of birds suddenly dying “did make its way to Connecticut, it was in very small numbers.”

“It was more of a Mid-Atlantic occurrence—around Washington D.C., Virginia and Maryland,” he said. “I don’t think the root cause has been identified.

More Improvements Coming to Bristow Bird Sanctuary

More improvements at Bristow Bird Sanctuary—including improving trails, adding more boardwalk, building a new pavilion and adding a bird blind—will soon be underway. During the Conservation Commission’s meeting on Sept. 9, Chairman Chris Schipper announced that the town is actively bidding for phase two of the project, which will be privately funded and includes the construction of footings and a pad for the new pavilion. “I was very pleased to have seen the bid notice out today for Centennial Master Plan Phase 2,” Schipper said during the virtual meeting. “Let’s hope we get some interested responders who can undertake that phase.”

Director of Public Works Tiger Mann said the contractor who won the bid for phase one has been notified that bidding is now open for phase two.