The Police Commission voted 3-0 last week to request state approval for a crosswalk on Oenoke Ridge near the driveway to the New Canaan Nature Center. The crosswalk would help pedestrians using the “greenlink” trail that runs through Irwin Park, Land Trust and Nature Center property get across Route 124 and onto a sidewalk that runs along the eastern side of Oenoke Ridge. “It’s always good to connect the walking trails and encourage people to walk and stay on the sidewalks and not cross in the middle of a road,” Police Deputy Chief John DiFederico said during the Commission’s regular meeting, held Feb. 19 in the training room at New Canaan Police Department headquarters.
Commission Chair Paul Foley, Secretary Jim McLaughlin and Sperry DeCew voted in favor seeking state approval for the crosswalk. The new “greenlink” trail opened on Earth Day two years ago.
Dozens of residents popped into a popular coffee shop downtown Friday to meet the four newest members of the New Canaan Police Department. During a two-hour “Coffee With a Cop” gathering at Zumbach’s, Officers Emily Clark, Erin McCarthy, Giancarlo Vincenzi and Joe Schinella met and fielded questions from locals. Sworn in last summer and now graduated from the State of Connecticut Police Academy, the officers mingled with residents for one of the first times since starting field training earlier in the week. Deputy Chief John DiFederico called the informal meet-ups “vital.”
“We serve the community,” DiFederico said as the always-busy Zumbach’s filled with patrons. “We have to meet the community and get to know them.
The manpower that New Canaan Police dedicated this past summer to the investigation of a missing local mom drained the department’s staff to minimum levels for a time, leading to a decline in motor vehicle violation citations, officials say. Year-to-date motor vehicle violation incidents were down about 20% as of Oct. 31, officials reported at last month’s meeting of the Police Commission. Responding to a question from Commission Chair Sperry DeCew about the decline in incidents—from 3,648 through the first ten months of 2018 to 2,933 this year—Deputy Chief John DiFederico said, “With the investigation this summer, that took a lot of manpower away.”
“We also had a very high number of order-ins,” DiFederico said at the meeting, held Nov. 20 at NCPD headquarters.
Town officials have installed new parking signs in a residential neighborhood just south of the downtown following concerns from residents there that increased on-street parking has created a safety hazard. At the recommendation of the Traffic Calming Work Group, ‘No Parking Here To Corner’ signs have been installed toward the northern end of Marshall Ridge Road, where it intersects with Richmond Hill Road.
An administrative team that includes members of the Police, Fire, Parking and Public Works Departments, the Work Group fielded a Marshall Ridge Road resident’s request for traffic-calming following what she described as a car crash during the morning school and work rush. According to Dawn Belles, a vehicle traveling eastbound on Richmond Hill Road at about 8:10 a.m. on a recent morning struck a vehicle with a mom driving her son toward school as that car tried to exit from Marshall Ridge. “Its very lucky kids weren’t around crossing to get to the bus stop on [Marshall] Ridge,” Belles wrote in her email to traffic officials, obtained by NewCanaanite.com through a public records request. With motorists, possibly commuters, parking on both sides of the road in the morning, that end of Marshall Ridge becomes dangerously narrow, to the point where school buses sometimes have difficulty getting through, Belles said in the letter.
Town officials say they’ll see whether it’s possible to move the line instructing motorists to stop at the top of Elm Street closer to Weed Street, following concerns from a longtime resident of the intersection that limited sight lines risk serious car crashes. Mike Field told members of the Traffic Calming Work Group at their Sept. 17 meeting that Elm Street’s westbound motorists “feel obliged to stop short because that is where stop sign is, but you absolutely not see anything from there.”
“So what happens is, people coming along going southbound on Weed, they think they have right of way over all that space between that stop sign and the area in front of it,” Field said at the meeting, held at the New Canaan Police Department. “And a lot of people don’t slow down, and a lot of the screeching and breaking and swearing comes from the fact that somebody is trying to creep forward, and somebody else who is not really visible until they get pretty close to the top of the hill there starts blasting their horn.”
Composed of members of the Police, Fire, Parking and Public Works Departments, the Work Group is an administrative team that fields requests for traffic calming and advises the Police Commission.
Field suggested installing stop signs for Weed Street traffic at Elm, saying “that would stop people who are barreling down Weed Street trying to get to work or coming into town and I don’t see anybody slowing down.”
Yet there are already stop signs the Frogtown Road intersection nearby, and it’s dangerous to try and use stop signs to slow down traffic, according to Police Deputy Chief John DiFederico, a member of the Work Group. “The problem with putting a stop sign where it really doesn’t belong is that it gives people a false sense of security,” he said.