State officials are deciding whether to allow the town to keep a new sign affixed to the train station building on Elm Street, officials say. Town officials purchased the new sign for about $4,000 after the old one (pictured at right) fell into “really bad shape,” according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. It went up last week. In addition to the name of the town, the new sign includes the slogan “Next Station To Heaven” (more on the history of that below).
The state Department of Transportation, which owns the train station building though the town maintains it, received a comment regarding the sign, asking whether the state agency had played a role in its design or procurement, Mann said. Now, the DOT “seems to have a little concern,” Mann said.
Following the discovery that at least one individual associated with a local taxi service had been living out of the New Canaan train station, complaints that cab drivers often nap on the benches inside and some rather disgusting vandalism in its bathroom that turned up over the holidays, town officials are seeking state approval to install additional video cameras both inside and outside the facility. The approximately $10,000 camera installation (the MTA already keeps its own cameras on the platform side)—to be paid for out of a fund generated by the $5 parking fees immediately adjacent to the station itself—also would help save time investigating accidents such as when CT Transit buses strike the platform canopies, according to Bill Oestmann, superintendent of buildings with the New Canaan Department of Pubilc Works. “Overall, it is a hard building to manage with so many people in and out, and we need to tighten it up—as we know, with everything going on in the world, security is not a bad thing, and for police to get real-time data from the cameras is good.”
Oestmann said that some time between Christmas and the New Year, a bathroom in the station was vandalized by feces strewn all about it. In other incidents, a friend of a cabbie had been found to be living at the station, and more recently, officials discovered personal belongings stuck into the electrical cabinets on the platform, Oestmann said. Local officials do not have access to the MTA’s cameras on the platform side, and under a new security system—which will include updating locks on the doors—New Canaan police and Oestmann will be able to monitor the goings-on at the station far better, he said.
We’re hearing from an inside source that the “new” Gates Restaurant, closed since the New Canaan mainstay was sold in April, will open early in January. We’re also hearing that locals will recognize some friendly, favorite faces at Gates when it reopens anew, including Rich “Doc” Ludemann (not our source)—a popular figure at the former restaurant (who many of us also call a good friend and former swim coach). The new restaurant will be heavy on craft beers, with an updated look and menu, stage for live music, wood-fired oven and grill, smoker, food bar and more features. ***
Joe Scarborough is listed as one of those who has supported (with $360) the Go Fund Me campaign for the New Canaan Police Department’s K-9 unit. In all, 29 individuals have donated a total of $2,300 to the cause.
With an eye on energy efficiency, New Canaan is planning to put $35,585 into new exterior lights of the train station’s platform and building downtown, officials said this week. Electricity at the station nearly maxes out on each breaker, so New Canaan will replace the lights there with energy-efficient LED models, said Bill Oestmann, superintendent of buildings and fleet with the Department of Public Works. The work hopefully will be done in August, Oestmann said during the June 17 meeting of the Board of Selectmen. “And then that reduces the load tremendously and hopefully the breakers should not be an issue after that,” he said during the meeting, held in the training room at the New Canaan Police Department. “We are also looking at an anticipated return on investment of 9 percent.
In our “REALLY?” feature, we observe those things that people do in New Canaan that make us scratch our heads. Today, we watched three sets of rail commuters—those catching the 7:12, 7:23 and 7:57 a.m. trains to New York City—cross at Elm and Park to catch the train, often entering the roadway despite motor vehicles with the right of way (green lights) bearing down on them. In nearly every case, the daring commuter had several minutes to spare. (Note: In the same span of time we saw several vehicles running red lights dangerously at this intersection, despite the pedestrian traffic.)
Prepare to see some close calls. For the sake of a better seat?