Cristina A. Ross

Recent Articles

Seeking More Info, Town Council Hits Pause on $1 Million Request for Waveny House

As a member of two committees that have studied the physical plant and uses of Waveny House, Christa Kenin said she’s sat through many brainstorming sessions regarding the 1912 public building. It’s been imagined as a future home for the Board of Education and a conference center, among other uses, Kenin told fellow Town Council members at their regular meeting Wednesday night. There’s been “no shortage of good ideas,” she said, yet right now Waveny House is in a “holding pattern.”

“And unfortunately, it is low-revenue-generating, and so for that reason I am not motivated to throw any money at it right now,” Kenin said as the legislative body discussed a capital funding request from the Department of Public Works for $1 million to install an elevator at Waveny House and accessible routes and bathrooms on the second floor in order to make it ADA-compliant at long last. “I don’t think it’s ‘Do this or shut it down,’ ” Kenin continued at the meeting, held in Town Hall. “I am more in favor of let’s take people off of the second floor, save $1 million, because that will kind of push us to actually make some decisions and this is long overdue for the ADA. Continue Reading →

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Town: Former Outback Building Will Not Serve as Home to Alternative High School; Market Value of Building To Be Gauged

The former Outback Teen Center downtown is off the table at this point as a possible future home for an “alternative high school” program envisioned by the school district, the town’s highest elected official said Tuesday. In order to maximize the value of the shuttered, centrally located building, New Canaan first must find out whether it can be rented or sold, according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan. “And in order to do that, you have to expose it to the market,” Moynihan told NewCanaanite.com following a full day’s worth of meetings on the fiscal year 2019 budget, which now moves to the Board of Finance. Moynihan said the decision was informed by a committee of the Town Council. Members of the Council’s Education Committee, and Moynihan himself, met Jan. Continue Reading →

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Despite Calls To Slow Down, Town Council by 7-3 Vote Approves Redesign of ‘Parterre Garden’ at Waveny

Thanking the volunteers who conceived of the plan and vowed to fund it—and despite opposition from some professional landscape architects—New Canaan’s legislative body on Wednesday night voted in favor of a redesign of a prominent garden at Waveny. The Town Council—New Canaan’s land use authority—at its special meeting voted 7-3 in favor of what some have called a “substantial redesign” of the parterre or “upper garden” at the beloved town park, though a national organization and prominent local landscape architect cautioned against a hasty approval. During an emotionally charged meeting at Town Hall, councilmen expressed regret that the two parties holding different opinions on what is best for the garden—the New Canaan Garden Club on one side with the redesign, and Keith Simpson Associates and a Washington, D.C.-based coalition on the other, advocating for a historic restoration—could not find a middle ground. Councilman Joe Paladino said he would like to see an “expanded dialogue” between the two sides—calling the Garden Club “an agency with decades and decades” of service to the town, and Simpson himself “an individual with hundreds and hundreds of hours that have benefitted our town.”

Yet a respectful exchange of ideas did not appear to be forthcoming, and the Town Council after some discussion approved the Garden Club’s plan. Those voting in favor included Chairman John Engel, Vice Chairmen Sven Englund and Rich Townsend, Steve Karl, Christa Kenin, Cristina A. Ross and Liz Donovan. Continue Reading →

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Audit Committee Chairman: New Canaan Should Review Bonding Practices

New Canaan’s bonded debt is the highest among all neighboring towns, the chairman of the Audit Committee said Wednesday night. What the town has bonded and plans to fund through bonding—typically large capital projects and equipment—would come, together, to nearly 100 percent of its revenues, Bill Parrett told members of the Town Council during their regular meeting. “It was a surprise to me,” Parrett said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. The question of just what New Canaan funds through bonding is “a significant issue,” according to Parrett, because though the IRS has rules and regulations around the practice, “that should not govern what we do as a town, as to what we in fact bond or don’t bond. “And when you bond something, as you all know, that is borrowing money±—sort of like a home equity loan, you have to pay it back … and we bonded quite a bit over last couple of years. Continue Reading →

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Town Councilman Pushes To Resolve Beetle Infestation at Former Outback Teen Center Building

A member of the Town Council on Wednesday night called for the legislative body to push officials to address a documented “powder post beetle” infestation at the former Outback Teen Center Building. Told that the town likely won’t address the problem until a more comprehensive report on the building’s capital needs and possible future use is in hand, Councilman Cristina A. Ross said that it’s been “slightly over one year” since the infestation was identified and “I am really surprised and concerned that this just keeps going and now we are waiting for another report and no action has been taken.”

“So I think it’s within our [Town Council Infrastructure & Utilities] subcommittee to be able to recommend to the Board of Selectmen to act on [an RFP for remediation] and to take care of the infestation at this point,” she said at the group’s regular meeting, held at Town Hall. No one knows what’s going to happen with the cavernous structure behind town hall. It’s been two years since the Outback Teen Center closed, unable either to make enough money to run itself or convince town officials to support a re-imagined, broad program that went beyond serving just teens. It reverted to town ownership last July and the vacant building has been vandalized since then. Continue Reading →

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