Plan To Widen Sidewalks on Elm Street Includes Six New 15-Minute Spaces

A proposal to widen some sidewalks on Elm Street now includes converting six spaces to 15-minutes in order to accommodate retailers, restaurants and shoppers making quick pick-ups, officials say. Town officials heard from business owners after a proposal to “bump out” some of the sidewalks on Elm between South Avenue and the Playhouse became known earlier this year, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. The 15-minute parking limit “would allow for your quick drop in for either a quick cup of coffee or for a store, to get in for retail to pick something up you had ordered,” Mann told members of the Police Commission at their April 21 meeting, held via videoconference. “And it would actually help a little bit with turnover on the street itself,” Mann said. Two 15-minute spaces would be located on Elm just east of the intersection with South Avenue, in front of Dunkin Donuts and midblock between the Playhouse crosswalk and Park Street, he said.

Town Seeks Review of ‘Sidewalk Bump-Out Plan’ on Elm Street

Town officials say they’ve hired a traffic engineer to review a plan to bump out sidewalks on Elm Street. Michael Galante, director of traffic at Norwalk-based Hardesty & Hanover LLC, has been hired “to come out and take a look at Elm Street, review a bump-out plan for us, a sidewalk bump-out plan,” according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. “He is going to be doing a little bit of traffic study and a little bit of speed study on Elm Street, the main business section,” Mann told members of the Police Commission during their regular meeting, held March 17 via videoconference. “There was a request to have the speed limit dropped there, and then we’d like him to take a look at that. So he will be out there in the next couple of weeks to look at that and then we are hoping to come back to you in April with some findings.”

The Commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for April 21. 

It wasn’t clear what portions of Elm Street sidewalks would be “bumped out” under the town’s plan, what businesses would benefit, whether the plan would result in loss of parking spaces or whether the town will solicit public input on the changes.

Town Plans Additional Pedestrian-Activated ‘Flashing Beacons’ at Crosswalks in New Canaan

Town officials say they’re hoping the state will consider funding installation of three pedestrian-activated flashing beacons at busy crosswalks in New Canaan. The three pedestrian crosswalks in question—at South Avenue and the YMCA, Old Stamford Road and Gower Road, and Oenoke Ridge and the Nature Center—do not meet state Department of Transportation criteria for speed limits and traffic volume, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. Yet the state may still cover the $16,000 cost for installing each “Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon” or “RRFB” if the town resubmits the locations as “honorable mentions,” Mann told members of the Police Commission at their most recent regular meeting. “We don’t have any that meet the criteria right now but we can at least put them on the list and, if you are amenable, go forward at that point,” Mann told the appointed body during its March 17 meeting, held via videoconference. “Each one of these that is requested has been requested by the residents or by our engineering staff, based on what we are looking at and the proposed sidewalk extensions that we are looking at doing throughout town.”

Mann added, “If we can’t get approval from the state, we are planning to extend the sidewalk on Oenoke Ridge to Parade Hill [Road] this year, once we get a DOT permit, and I would like to be able to install that one with town funds if I can’t get DOT funds for it.

Police Commission Votes 3-0 To Extend Outdoor Dining Set-Ups on Main and Elm through Feb. 17

The Police Commission last week voted unanimously to allow Main and Elm Street restaurants to keep their COVID-19 outdoor dining set-ups—where tables are out on sidewalks, and some pedestrian access ways dip behind barriers into the street—for another month. Created last May and extended periodically since then, the temporary sidewalk and parking configurations are designed to give more outdoor dining space to restaurants that have been under changing capacity restrictions since the onset of COVID-19 virus. (As of Nov. 6, under the governor’s order, they’re allowed no more than 50% capacity total between indoor and outdoor dining.)

“It’s more that the weather’s been great,” Commission Chair Paul Foley said at the appointed body’s Jan. 20 meeting, held via videoconference.