‘A Great Feeling’: Paladino Construction Wins New Canaan Rec Softball Title 

Joe Paladino hadn’t played softball in 10 years when he attended a friend’s party in 1999 and heard about New Canaan’s Rec Department summer league. He signed up, and five years later launched his own Paladino Construction team, working through some difficult and even winless early seasons before finally getting to .500 mark and consistently making the finals. “We considered ourselves the Buffalo Bills of New Canaan softball,” Paladino recalled. “We always got to dance but could never make the magic happen.”

Until recently. Last week, Paladino Construction bested a team called “The Firm” by a combined three-game score of 34-11 to capture its second straight league championship.

Popularity of Platform Tennis Soars Amid COVID-19

Municipal officials say they’ve seen a steep increase this fall and winter in the number of people playing platform or “paddle” tennis on New Canaan’s town-owned courts at Waveny Park. Revenues generated through selling permits and guest passes for the outdoor sport already have surpassed $70,000 for the paddle tennis season that started in early-October, compared to anticipated revenues of about $46,000, according to Recreation Director Steve Benko. In the past two paddle seasons, which run through mid-April, the town has taken in a total of about $56,000 (fiscal year 2020) and $46,000 (fiscal year 2019) in revenues, Benko told members of the Board of Finance Park & Recreation Budget Subcommittee during a regular meeting Monday. “Paddle is going crazy,” he said during the meeting, held via videoconference. 

“We’ve had an outstanding year so far in paddle tennis. Our revenues are way up in paddle.

Committee Raises Question of Whether Renovating Police Station or Building Anew Is Best

The appointed body charged with planning for a new police station will start by researching whether it’s more prudent to renovate or build anew on-site or elsewhere in town, members said Thursday. At their first meeting, members of the Police Department Building Committee noted that occupying a structure while it’s being renovated presents practical problems, and that it costs $1 million or more to move a large part of a police force into a separate facility temporarily during construction. Stuart Sawabini, a former Police Commission chair who is advising the Committee as director of New Canaan’s Community Emergency Response Team, said that if a suitable location could be found, “my personal choice would be to build new.”

“The efficiency of the building is far greater when you have spaces that are purpose-specific,” Sawabini said during the meeting, held via videoconference. “So building a new building means you are designing it with only the items you really want in it. As compared to renovating a building where there’s bound to be spaces that are allocated to a prior use which the Police Department may not be able to utilize.

VIDEO: New Canaan Library Unveils Dramatic Rebuilding Plans

New Canaan Library on Tuesday unveiled plans for a rebuilt facility that makes dramatically different use of the organization’s gateway block to the downtown and features a glass-and-stone exterior, 300-seat auditorium, rooftop terrace, café, public concourse, fireplace, two large conference rooms and “town green” at the corner of Main and Cherry Streets. Appearing before the Board of Finance ahead of making a formal request for a $10 million town contribution toward the overall $30 million project, library officials described the planned new building as a state-of-the-art facility that opens possibilities in events, programming and gathering for the library and the wider community.  

Library Director Lisa Oldham noted that the real estate and business communities already have voiced support for the project, and that the rebuilt facility is expected to be an asset for New Canaan that draws homebuyers and encourages residents to stay here. She shared projections from a draft economic impact study that the library commissioned the Connecticut Economic Research Council showing “that the library will drive significant new dollars to the local economy, up to $6 million a year in new consumer spending.”

“The town’s critical capital allocation for the library should be viewed as an investment with a clear and quantifiable return in the form of real economic gains that will stimulate our local economy,” Oldham said during the Board’s regular meeting at Town Hall, attended by a standing room-only crowd. 

The library itself has already raised about $15 million toward the project and plans call for a spring 2021 groundbreaking followed by 18 to 24 months of construction. The current building would operate while the new one is built. 

The new 48,000-square-foot building would replace an aging facility with a failing, costly physical plant that hasn’t had a significant renovation in four decades, Oldham said. 

During their presentation to the Board, Oldham and the library’s director of development and marketing, Ellen Crovatto, played a short film that featured 3D renderings of the planned new library’s interior and exterior (see above—it drew loud applause from the room), reviewed the need for a new facility and efforts to solicit input from locals, spotlighted the library’s high community engagement and broke down to-date fundraising successes for the project (including 55-plus gifts of $100,000 or more). 

Board members complimented Oldham and Crovatto on their presentation and plans, which Michael Chen called “mind-blowing.”

“I really think this is a game-changer for the town of New Canaan,” Chen said.