A divided Board of Selectmen on Tuesday voted to approve a pair of contracts to demolish a long-neglected town-owned building on the northern edge of Mead Park, signaling the end of a long-running and hotly disputed debate concerning its future.
Selectman Nick Williams, who emerged in recent months as the Board’s “swing vote” on what preservationists have dubbed the “Mead Park Brick Barn,” said he had mixed feelings about voting to raze it.
Noting that a local nonprofit organization, the New Canaan Preservation Alliance, has “worked tirelessly in its efforts to save the Barn” and that “every citizen of New Canaan, regardless of whether you are in favor of or opposed to its continuation, should applaud their efforts,” Williams said that “the time has finally come to proceed with demolition.”
“During a meeting last fall, I said then and I quote, ‘I am personally generally agnostic about the disposition of the Brick Barn, but regardless, one of two things needs to happen—it either needs to be fixed and rehabilitated soon, very soon, or it needs to come down,’ ” Williams said during the Board’s meeting, held at Town Hall.
“While the Alliance has indeed tried to move heaven and earth to save the Barn, alas, the requisite funding plan, in my mind, essentially, cash on the barrel and in the bank for the complete restoration, with no ‘strings attached,’ and together with a business plan acceptable to relevant town bodies has not come to full fruition,” Williams continued.
He noted that municipal bodies including the Town Council and Parks & Recreation Commission have voted repeatedly to see the Brick Barn demolished.
“That tells me that even if we as a Board today were to provide additional time for the Alliance, their continued efforts would ultimately be in vain,” Williams said. “For those reasons, I feel compelled to assist in ending a discussion that has has taken place for nearly a decade. It’s time to move on. The disposition of the Barn has engendered an extraordinary amount of input from our citizens, with emotions running strong on both sides of the issue. Likewise the so-called ‘process’ of that disposition has been discussed and debated extensively in our local press.