‘I’m Kind of Scratching My Head’: Councilmen Question 1913 Building-Related Clause in Draft Agreement Between Town, Library

The Board of Selectmen created new problems for New Canaan Library and its estimated $35 million rebuilding plan by reopening questions regarding preservation of its original 1913 building without the organization’s knowledge, members of the town’s legislative body said last week. Last March, the Town Council voted down a motion that would have effectively halted the library’s project for one year so that preservationists could figure out a use for the 1913 building and fundraise for its restoration and maintenance. The library is seeking a $10 million contribution from the town toward the project and is fundraising the balance. Yet it came to light last week that a draft agreement between the town and library—a Memorandum of Understanding or “MOU” that the selectmen approved and that now is making its way to the Board of Finance and, eventually, Town Council—includes a new clause that allows for a decision on whether to demolish the original 1913 library building to be put off for at least two years during construction. “I was surprised to see that paragraph in there, in the MOU, because I thought the MOU after waiting which is six months—you could actually say a year—where we emotionally came to the decision that we did,” Councilman Steve Karl said during the elected body’s regular meeting, held Feb.

First Selectman Questions Whether Town Videoconferencing Tool Used ‘Appropriately’

First Selectman Kevin Moynihan on Thursday questioned whether a videoconferencing service purchased by the town to bolster communications during the COVID-19 public health emergency is being employed appropriately by one elected official behind its regular use. The town in March began reserving Zoom accounts with participant limits ranging from 100 to 500, and they’re used not only to run and broadcast public meetings but also for a daily afternoon video call moderated by Town Council Chair John Engel, Moynihan said during a press briefing attended by NewCanaanite.com and Hearst Connecticut. Engel, a Realtor, on Tuesday used the town account to host a real estate-focused panel during the regular 4 p.m. time slot—an event teased and promoted in email blasts through his Halstead account. “We aren’t clear on how he is using it,” Moynihan said in reference to the town Zoom account when asked about it during the briefing, itself held via videoconference. The daily call started out “as a community service,” Moynihan said.