Town Attorney Warns of Unforeseen Restrictions Regarding Popular Pedestrian Alley

Though some are eager to preserve forever a frequently used pedestrian alley downtown, officials say, the town attorney is warning that doing so through an easement could hamstring future municipal leaders. The alley that runs alongside the Playhouse and Le Pain Quotidien, connecting Elm Street to the parking lots behind it, is town-owned property. Though it could be transferred into a trust and then placed under an easement that would guarantee it serves as a pedestrian walkway in perpetuity, Town Attorney Ira bloom is urging town officials to consider that doing so could restrict future generations in unforeseen ways, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said. Asked by a committee of the Planning & Zoning Commission to look into the possibility of an easement, Moynihan said he called on Bloom to investigate it. 

“Some people want to protect it in perpetuity,” Moynihan said. “The counter argument is that you don’t want to restrict future generations of leaders about what to do 100 years from now.”

Public Buildings InfoSheet: The Playhouse

[Editor’s Note: The following has been prepared in advance of the “Forum on Public Buildings.”]

Built: 1923, Colonial Revival
Square footage: 8,560
Current uses: Movie theater with florist on ground floor, two nonprofit organizations on second floor. The town currently nets $86,000 per year in rent, with no consideration of capital costs. Committee recommendations: Given the terms of the current lease, which runs through 2022, with an option to renew for five additional years, minimize capital expenses for the building. Relevant articles: Committee Mulls Whether Town Should Continue As Owner of Playhouse (November 2017), Officials: Bow Tie Cinemas Interested in Restoring, Possibly Purchasing New Canaan Playhouse (January 2017), ‘There’s a Fine Line Between Charming and Outdated’: Playhouse Committee Convenes First Meeting (October 2015), ‘It’s Part of Why People Come to This Town’: Officials Discuss Future of New Canaan Playhouse (April 2015), New Canaan Playhouse: Private Owner Would Have More Flexibility in ADA Compliance (March 2015)

Submitted by Lesley Cousley:

Built in 1923 and designed by New Canaan architect Calvin E. Kiessling, this was the first building of the Village Improvement Company, in part of its planned development of Elm Street, then known as Railroad Avenue. The Colonial Revival style building helped set the style for development downtown.

Did You Hear … ?

The gallery for this week’s “Did You Hear … ?” features interior photos from rental units at the newly built mixed-use building at 16 Cross St. in New Canaan, “The Crossing.”

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The Town Council on Wednesday night voted 12-0 in favor of an operating budget of $148,136,106 for fiscal year 2018. The overall figure and amount allocated to the Board of Education ($87,618,405) are the same as had been approved by the Board of Finance. The schools are seeing an approximately 1.6 percent year-over-year increase, while the overall operating budget is going up 2.6 percent.

Officials: Bow Tie Cinemas Interested in Restoring, Possibly Purchasing New Canaan Playhouse

The movie theater company that leases the Playhouse building from the town is interested in putting money into the aging brick structure and possibly owning it, New Canaan’s highest elected official said Tuesday. Bow Tie Cinemas has “a very, very long-term lease and they have expressed no interest in getting out,” according to First Selectman Rob Mallozzi. “They are a very happy movie theater,” he said at a regular Board of Selectmen meeting, held at Town Hall. “They like the vibe, they like the business model. They have 143 theaters nationwide and are very prideful to be in New Canaan.