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.

‘If You Want To Save Something, You’ve Got To Step Up’: Selectmen Discuss 1913 Library Building at Budget Hearing

The town’s highest elected official said at a recent budget hearing that he remains supportive of a $10 million municipal contribution toward the planned rebuilding of New Canaan Library, while signaling to those seeking to preserve an original 1913 building that would be demolished under the library’s plan that they’d need to come up with a formal use and funding to make that happen. First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said during a Jan. 19 Board of Selectmen meeting that he remains “committed to the project” as well as “the $10 million capital contribution [from] the town.”

“I think some people think the 1913 building is a closed issue, but we have to get through P&Z and see where that comes out,” he said during the meeting, held via videoconference. “I would say, as I have said publicly, anyone who wants to preserve a building has to step up and help—have a purpose for the building and help have money for [it]. You can’t just say, ‘I want a building to remain,’ and not be part of the process to make it have a purpose.”

The comments came following a presentation from the library’s executive director, Lisa Oldham, and its annual request for a town contribution toward operations.

New Canaan Health Director on Vaccine Allocation: ’We Just Need the State To Be a Little Nicer’

New Canaan’s health director estimated Thursday that roughly half of the town’s 75-and-over population had started the process of getting COVID-19 vaccinations. The figure includes those in Waveny LifeCare Network facilities, though it’s not definitive because the state’s management system for administering vaccines doesn’t provide that level of detail, according to Jenn Eielson. “I am hopeful, because we still have a lot of people on our list that have called and want to be on it, so even if we can get 200 doses next week it would be a huge help because a lot of these—especially the 85-and-up—really can’t get to these other sites and have mobility issues,” Eielson told the Board of Selectmen during their regular meeting, held via videoconference. “And we spend so much time at the clinic helping them, not only getting them from the car, then to the booth, filing out their paper work, walking them to the other rooms, [Recreation Director] Steve Benko walking them back to the car. You’re not going to get that personal level at a hospital or anywhere else.