ARPA: Health and Human Services Commission Should Advise Town on Future Allocations, Members Say

An appointed body that oversees New Canaan’s Health and Human Services departments should be doing more to help the town set priorities on spending what remains of $6 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding, its members say. The Town Council last month approved about $2 million in “ARPA” spending, including allocations for “premium pay” for school and town workers, greenlink sidewalks, year-round public bathrooms, a generator and marketing. Yet the Health and Human Services Commission “should be giving more assistance and support to our elected officials on priority funding,” Russ Barksdale Jr., a member of the Commission, said at its Jan. 6 meeting. “I did not see any priority funding given to our local or town Health Department, as an example,” Barksdale said at the meeting, held via videoconference.

Library Attorney: Decision on Fate of 1913 Building Must Come During P&Z Process

Though a clause inserted last week into a draft agreement between the town and New Canaan Library would appear to forestall a decision on whether to demolish the original 1913 library building for at least two years during construction, the fate of that structure must be decided far sooner, an attorney said Tuesday. While it’s true that the library will operate out of its existing building until the new one is completed and ready for move-in, the Planning & Zoning Commission must approve the library’s full plan for the site even before construction starts, including for the century-old structure overlooking Main and Cherry Streets, according to Ted O’Hanlan, a longtime partner at Stamford-based Robinson + Cole who was nominated last week as a state Superior Court judge (the class of nominees awaits confirmation by the General Assembly). P&Z “has to approve a plan before we can start anything, so this will be resolved by then,”” O’Hanlan told members of the Board of Selectmen during their regular meeting, held via videoconference. “I don’t believe it can be an open issue,” O’Hanlan added, where construction can commence without a final plan for the 1913 library. “The library plans to put forward a very articulated reason why it’s not proposing to save the 1913 building,” he said.

Library: Rebuilding Project on Track for Spring As Parking Plan, Schematic Design Get Finalized 

The timetable for municipal approvals of the widely anticipated New Canaan Library rebuilding project has been pushed back a bit pending details around parking and specifics of financials, the town’s highest elected official said this week. First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said Tuesday that he had anticipated the library coming to the Board of Finance this week “with further financial information, but they are waiting for pricing estimates on their project.”

“The Board of Finance has made clear that they want much more specific numbers before they can move forward,” Moynihan said during a regular meeting of the Selectmen’s Advisory Committee on Buildings and Infrastructure, held via videoconference. “The Town Council has made clear that they want to see what is going to Planning & Zoning, which now has slipped a bit to the end of November, apparently.”

The $36 million rebuilding of New Canaan Library is still expected to commence next spring and construction will continue for about two years, the library’s executive director, Lisa Oldham, confirmed when asked about the project. Under a draft Memorandum of Understanding or ‘MOU’ with the town that’s been under negotiation since early this year, the town is to contribute $10 million toward the project while the library bears the balance of the cost through its own fundraising and a $15 million commercial construction loan from Bankwell, documents show. Moynihan said that parking is among the key pieces of the MOU.