Town Awaits Bids on Waveny House ADA Project as Major Funding Decision Looms

Municipal officials say they’re eagerly awaiting contractors’ bids this week for a major multi-part project at Waveny House, as the town decides whether and how quickly to redress the historic structure’s noncompliance with ADA standards. Originally believed to be a project of narrow scope costing about $1 million, a multi-year project now expected to cost $2.8 million would include creation of ADA-compliant bathrooms and installation of an elevator so that disabled people could access Waveny’s second floor—where the Parks & Recreation Department is located—as well as required upgrades to a fire escape and entrances to the brick mansion from its west porch and rear balcony. 

While some municipal leaders have said they support the project, including First Selectman Kevin Moynihan, others—including some members of New Canaan’s legislative body—have voiced concerns about spending the money while much of the large structure itself still has no clearly defined long-term use or identified revenue stream beyond the roughly $100,000 to $140,000 generated annually through renting it out for events such as weddings. “We have got to make some decisions about this project, because if we have no project, we probably don’t have a Waveny House,” Moynihan said Monday during a meeting of the Selectmen’s Committee on Facilities and Infrastructure, held via videoconference. 

The Board of Finance and Town Council are expected to vote next month on whether to authorize the funds (the issuance of bonds to pay for the project, and attendant public hearings, would still need to follow). Bid packages expected to arrive Thursday could make a major difference in the town’s decision, officials say, especially given the prospect of cost-savings with contractors finding less work now amid the COVID-19 public health emergency. “The numbers will help us decide,” Moynihan said.

Letter: Town Council Vote Also ‘Disheartening’ for Our Democracy

The Town Council’s vote is disheartening, not just for healthy start times but for our town’s democracy. 

Assuming everything in this article is correct, which I have no reason to doubt, the Town Council made a decision against the choice taxpayers have overwhelmingly expressed and against the best interests of children in our town, in the latter case by flouting clear supporting scientific evidence. And questioning whether to consider the support expressed through a letter-writing campaign? What leads you to such an outrageous comment? Letter-writing campaigns are a time-honored and constructive method of effecting change. 

Councilman Tom Butterworth’s articulate letter in this newsletter on April 2 identified all of the reasons why this vote should have passed—despite the fact that the Town Council had hoped it would not be left to them. And the message that you simply vote on the budget and not how it is spent is not only vacuous but dismisses the hard work done by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi and the many others who devoted time, intelligence and pragmatism to design a sensible plan to address a real health issue. 

If the budget had been sliced substantially due to the current crisis, one could understand that.

New Committee Reviews Unused Town-Owned Buildings 

A newly appointed committee on Wednesday identified and discussed eight town-owned structures that New Canaan may no longer need in its portfolio. The town has 62 total buildings or structures that require some level of maintenance, according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan. The figure does not include school district buildings. 

Some of them are “possibly expendable,” Moynihan said during the first meeting of the Selectmen’s Advisory Committee on Buildings and Infrastructure. “All of these buildings are used for some town function, so even though there are a lot of buildings—New Canaan has a lot of buildings—they all have a purpose,” he said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. “And some of them are not totally utilized in terms of their capacity.

Letter: Moynihan-Williams Team ‘Brings Numerous Accomplishments’

As we kick off Election 2019 I couldn’t be more pleased to support Kevin Moynihan for First Selectman and Nick Williams for Selectman. They are strong, dedicated and forward-thinking leaders who have served New Canaan with extraordinary focus on the issues facing our community. This team brings numerous accomplishments, with overarching concerns for preservation of our historic past, and ensuring a bright, sustainable future. Waveny Park field/trails/gardens are being rejuvenated through the public-private partnership with the Waveny Park Conservancy; Waveny house is receiving needed repairs and soon will be ADA accessible for people of all abilities. Solar energy has been brought to several town-owned buildings and schools; natural gas has arrived in Town; both projects have brought significant savings to our budgets.

‘It’s on the Horizon’: Town Council To Look at New Restrictions on Real Estate Signs

Members of New Canaan’s legislative body said last week that the town is still looking at a proposed trial period banning real estate signs so that residents can have good first-hand information prior to deciding whether they want a permanent ban. The new language in New Canaan’s ordinances or Zoning Regulations could be wrapped into an updated policy that covers other types of commercial signs, such as for home services, members of the Town Council said at their June 19 meeting. During a future trial period, locals would be able to compare what New Canaan looks like with ‘for sale’ signs and without them “and the public can weigh in and say which they like better,” Councilman Steve Karl said at the elected body’s meeting, held in Town Hall. “What we are talking about so far would be a temporary experiment,” he said. Co-Chair of the Council’s Bylaws and Ordinances Committee, Karl said the group is seeking feedback from local Realtors, too.