Plan for Standard Pedestrian Crosswalk Signals Includes Continuous ‘Locator’ Beep for Visually Impaired

A plan to standardize pedestrian crosswalks in New Canaan with an audible signal for the visually impaired includes a continuous low beep to let people know when they’re approaching an intersection, town officials say. The beeping itself must be audible to those who need to hear it, though not so loud that it disturbs people living in houses or apartments nearby, members of the Police Commission said at their most recent meeting. The “locator” beep is different from the percussive sound that a pedestrian signal makes when it’s safe to cross, Public Works Director Tiger Mann told the Commission at its Oct. 19 meeting, held at police headquarters. 

Referring to the intersection of South Avenue and Farm Road, Mann said, “Certainly if we were looking at one around the school system, we might want it to be a little bit louder, but then there is a resident right next to it, so we have to be concerned about that.”

The Police Commission undertook an effort to standardize pedestrian crosswalk signals in September, after New Canaan Police Community Impact Officer Nicole Vartuli brought a lack of consistency to the appointed body’s attention after receiving complaints from a blind resident. 

The locator beep must run 24/7 “because I don’t know when a blind pedestrian will arrive at the crosswalk,” Mann said. “I can’t say, ‘You can only be there from 8 to 5,’ to be honest,” he said.

Town To Seek State’s Permission To Start Richmond Hill Sidewalk Installation

Town officials say they plan to seek permission to build sidewalks along a portion of Richmond Hill Road on either side of the railroad crossing, while the pedestrian crossing over the tracks—a piece of the overall project that requires additional time and approvals—is done in the future. Municipal officials have been meeting with more than one dozen representatives from state and federal agencies, as well as Metro-North Railroad, to determine “what needs to be done to adequately cross the intersection” of Richmond Hill Road at the railroad tracks, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. “We’re at the stage now where we’ll submit our plans to Metro-North Railroad and DOT [state Department of Transportation] Rails for their review to come back and say what we need,” Mann told members of the Police Commission during an update at their Oct. 19 meeting, held at police headquarters and via videoconference. “The good thing is that we are at this stage.

‘I Think This Helps’: Three Loading Zones Downtown To Become 15-Minute Spaces

Saying there’s an increased need for quick visits to downtown New Canaan restaurants and shops, and that delivery trucks often double-park anyway, town officials this month approve a proposal to convert three loading zones to 15-minute spaces. The Police Commission at its March 16 meeting voted 3-0 to convert loading zones on Forest Street (just past the diner), on Main Street at East Avenue and on Elm Street near the intersection with Park Street into 15-minute spaces. Laura Budd presented the concept to the Commission in her dual roles as executive director of the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce and chair of the Parking Commission, which adjudicates parking ticket appeals. “Obviously our number-one goal is always public safety,” Budd said during the meeting, held via videoconference. She said there are some loading zones in downtown New Canaan that get frequent use and “should not be touched,” such as one on South Avenue at Elm Street, and another on Burtis Avenue.

Police Commission Approves Use of Former ‘Pop Up Park’ for June 4 ‘Art in the Windows’ Kickoff

The appointed municipal body that oversees road closures in New Canaan this month voted unanimously to approve use of the former “Pop Up Park” area at Elm Street and South Avenue for an all-day art celebration in June. The Police Commission voted 3-0 to approve use of the Pop Up Park from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 4 as a kickoff for the annual Art in the Windows event (rain date June 11). Presented by the Carriage Barn Arts Center and organized in partnership with the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce, the annual exhibit sees dozens of pieces of art work displayed in the windows of downtown stores. 

“It’s just a fabulous event for the town,” Commissioner Shekaiba Bennett said at the group’s March 16 meeting, held via videoconference. 

Bennett, Commission Chair Paul Foley and Secretary Jim McLaughlin voted in favor of the road closure. The event will run through 4 p.m., and will require about one hour for cleanup, according to the organization’s executive director, Hilary Wittmann. Art in the Windows is the Carriage Barn Arts Center’s one big event that’s not at the organization’s headquarters in Waveny “that we do downtown,” Wittmann said.