Those caught after breaking into or stealing cars from New Canaan typically get off easy since their cases are classified as property rather than violent crimes, officials said this week. It’s rare for car thieves to go to jail, New Canaan Police Chief Leon Krolikowski said Wednesday. “Usually they’ll get released and it’s kind of a revolving door,” Krolikowski said during a regular meeting of the Police Commission, in response to a question about the thefts. “Lots of times they get arrested multiple times. I’ve heard of cases where people have been arrested dozens of times and the people still aren’t in jail.
Saying they’d make an exception amid the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the Police Commission last week approved a road closure downtown for a sports team’s annual fundraiser. The Police Commission voted 3-0 in favor of closing South Avenue before Elm Street—the former “Pop Up Park” area—so that New Canaan Crew can hold its “Ergathon” event on Saturday, Sept. 26. The appointed body noted that the crew team would have difficulty holding the event on a sidewalk downtown, given that many restaurants have “bumped out” onto the sidewalk during the pandemic to create more outdoor dining space. Chair Paul Foley said the event brings good visibility to a worthy sports and self-funded sports team.
The Police Commission voted unanimously Friday in favor of a reconfigured parking and sidewalk plan for downtown New Canaan that could remain in place through mid-October.
Designed by town officials and citizen volunteers, the plan is designed to create additional outdoor dining areas for local restaurants. To take effect some time after May 20, it calls for “bump-outs” onto parts of the sidewalks along Elm, Forest and Main Streets and creation of new pedestrian walkways around them, in what had been on-street parallel parking spaces, to be marked and protected by objects such as water-filled barriers and planters. Specifically, the plan calls for bump-outs in two areas along the north side of Elm Street, one in front of Rosie and another from Elm restaurant through Solé; a bump-out in front of Spiga restaurant on Main Street; and one more on the west side of Forest Street from Cava through the New Canaan Diner, with one-way motor vehicle traffic to flow along the eastern side of the street, currently used for parallel parking. The angled parking along the south side of Elm Street will not change, Public Works Director Tiger Mann told the Commission during a special meeting, held Friday via videoconference. Nor will the parallel parking on both sides of Forest Street beyond the diner change, Mann said.
“Therefore, the residents that live in the new condo complex can just access their homes and residences as they have normally done,” he said.
New Canaan likely won’t be able to negotiate a way around losing several parking spaces on Main Street downtown, as per a state statute that prohibits spots near crosswalks, officials said this week. After speaking with Connecticut Department of Transportation officials, state Rep. Tom O’Dea (R-125th) said that “obtaining waiver is probably not likely.”
O’Dea told members of the Police Commission during their regular meeting Wednesday that he intends to schedule a meeting with the DOT that includes New Canaan’s delegation to the General Assembly. “It is a statute, or regulation, that we have to try to get an exemption from,” O’Dea said during the meeting, held at the New Canaan Police Department.
“What we are going to try and bring up is what other possible things we can do to address their safety concerns with having crosswalk and parking spots where they are currently, whether that be some sort of lighting or some sort of reflective things, but I would say I’m not optimistic I will be able to change their position.”
After a town resident complained to the DOT regarding New Canaan’s failure to observe a 1949 state law that prohibits parking within 25 feet of a marked crosswalk at an intersection, state officials pushed for immediately compliance. (The stretch of Main Street from Cherry to Locust Avenue doubles in parts as state Routes 106 and 124.) The town hired a Fairfield-based transportation consultant to study the area, and that firm returned last month with a new parking configuration that would limit the loss of parking to six net spaces. The Commission decided to hold off a vote on that plan, pending O’Dea’s input.
O’Dea said the response from the DOT regarding its insistence that New Canaan comply with the law where perhaps other municipalities are not is, “Well, we have not received complaint or we are not aware of them, and they don’t have the staff to go inspect this situation.”
New Canaan shouldn’t remove any crosswalks on Main Street until a traffic study is in hand and the town attorney reviews a legal opinion that could preempt the need, officials said last week. The Police Commission, New Canaan’s local traffic authority, during its Sept. 18 meeting voted unanimously to request that the town attorney look at a legal opinion challenging the notion that a state law required the municipality to lost 13 parking spaces on Elm Street irretrievably last summer. That same legal opinion—which finds, in part, that the town could preserve some parking through local ordinance—also bears “tangentially” on a more recent finding that New Canaan must lose 10 to 12 spaces on Main Street because they’re located within 25 feet of a crosswalk, according to Commission Chair Sperry DeCew. “If we had some municipal parking regulations, which are indicated… that could possibly help us with the Main Street issue,” DeCew said during the Commission’s regular meeting, held in the training room at the New Canaan Police Department.