Police Commission Discusses Traffic Woes at Gerdes, Conrad

The New Canaanite 2024 Summer Internship Program is sponsored by Karp Associates. Traffic engineers say the motor vehicle backup and speeding problems that New Canaanites are seeing in the “South of the Y” neighborhood during commuter hours are due to two main issues. The town has been grappling with backed-up vehicles on Gerdes Road, and a related problem of speeding on Conrad Road, for more than one year. In the morning, especially, southbound Merritt Parkway commuters are skirting traffic between exits 38 and 37 as directed by navigation apps such as Waze and Google Maps. Drivers either queue up for the Gerdes Road/South Avenue light to re-enter the Merritt at exit 37, or else swing out wider to Conrad and Whiffle Tree Roads, officials have said.

Playhouse Movie Theater To Reopen to the Public Friday; Special Premiere Thursday [PHOTOS]

New Canaan’s iconic 101-year-old movie theater, The Playhouse on Elm Street, is set to reopen to the public on Friday following a four-year closure. The completely renovated, twin-screen theater—brought back to life following an agreement with New Jersey-based CinemaLab to operate the town-owned building—is set for a special invite-only premiere Thursday night and then will open to the general public with Ryan Reynolds’s movie “If.”

The town Police Commission last week approved the theater’s operational plan to make a big splash of Thursday’s premiere. Represented by town resident Jayne Benton, the cupola-topped theater will see the Playhouse Lot out back closed in the early afternoon for guests of the premiere to gather for a red carpet entrance down the LPQ alley and into the building. 

“All of our guests are going to enter down the alleyway down a red carpet, turn the corner and go in the front door,” Benton told members of the appointed body at their June 20 meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. “But we don’t need to block off the whole sidewalk. We have some stanchions that are going to go along there, as well, because we’d like to be able to have people walking in front of the Playhouse and kind of being a part of the whole thing.”

The whole thing has been a long time coming and eagerly anticipated by New Canaanites. 

Closed at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 and available to a new tenant since later that year, when Bow Tie Cinemas terminated its lease, the Playhouse originally was scheduled to reopen for its centennial (2023) but that date has been pushed back amid construction delays.

Outdoor Dining Season in Downtown New Canaan on Track for April 1 to Oct. 31

Town officials on Wednesday approved the installation of new concrete “planter” barricades for outdoor dining for the upcoming season. The Police Commission voted 3-0 during its regular meeting to allow for the barricades to be put in place from April 1 to Oct. 31. They’ll be placed on either side of the sidewalk “bumpouts” on the northern side of Elm Street, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. They will be “in the area from, say, in front of Rosie’s and then the area from Solé from the Playhouse westward past Chef Luis,” Mann told the Commission at the meeting, held in Town Hall and via videoconference.

Town: Consultant Finds that Gerdes-South Avenue Intersection Functions at Lowest Possible Level of Service

A New Haven-based consulting firm has found that the intersection of Gerdes Road and South Avenue—long backed-up with Merritt Parkway-skirting motorists using navigation apps at rush hour, causing safety and other concerns for residents—functions at the lowest possible level of service, officials say. Traffic engineers at the firm of Hardesty & Hanover have assigned a grade of F to the intersection on a scale of A to F with “F being the worst,” for westbound traffic in the morning, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. 

The same intersection functions at a level D in the afternoon, Mann told members of the Police Commission at their Feb. 21 meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. Yet in looking at how the intersection will perform over a five-year period, the consultants “came up with the fact that if they took nine seconds off of one of the legs, basically the northbound leg on South Avenue, and gave it to Gerdes, it would raise Gerdes from an F to a D,” Mann said, with C and D being acceptable and common service levels for such intersections. By transferring nine seconds of green light from South Avenue to the commuter traffic, “the queuing lengths on Gerdes would reduce from 700 feet to somewhere on the order of below 500 feet, which I think would almost put us before the intersection of Conrad Road ,and then prevent some people from shooting up Conrad Road,” Mann said.

‘People Are Just Not Stopping’: South School Crosswalk To Get Pedestrian-Activated Flashing Beacon

Saying the leadership at South School has flagged a safety issue for kids, town officials on Wednesday approved the installation of a second set of pedestrian-activated flashing beacons on Gower Road. The Police Commission about one year ago approved a set of “rapid rectangular flashing beacons” or “RRFBs” for a crosswalk leading from a Douglas Road neighborhood pathway to a playground at South. 

During its regular meeting Wednesday night, the Commission approved another set of RRFBs for a crosswalk located further east, near a parking area at the school. Public Works Director Tiger Mann, in seeking approval from the appointed body, said the new request came from both New Canaan Police School Resource Officer Shane Gibson and South School Principal Matt Kascak. Though the first set of RRFBs has been helpful is slowing Gower motorists, “the problem still is that cars are not stopping for kids as they want to try to come through the crosswalk,” Mann said. “And this is probably the major artery for walkers to South School to come down Gower Road and cross this intersection,” he said at the meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference.