Town Plans Additional Pedestrian-Activated ‘Flashing Beacons’ at Crosswalks in New Canaan

Town officials say they’re hoping the state will consider funding installation of three pedestrian-activated flashing beacons at busy crosswalks in New Canaan. The three pedestrian crosswalks in question—at South Avenue and the YMCA, Old Stamford Road and Gower Road, and Oenoke Ridge and the Nature Center—do not meet state Department of Transportation criteria for speed limits and traffic volume, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. Yet the state may still cover the $16,000 cost for installing each “Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon” or “RRFB” if the town resubmits the locations as “honorable mentions,” Mann told members of the Police Commission at their most recent regular meeting. “We don’t have any that meet the criteria right now but we can at least put them on the list and, if you are amenable, go forward at that point,” Mann told the appointed body during its March 17 meeting, held via videoconference. “Each one of these that is requested has been requested by the residents or by our engineering staff, based on what we are looking at and the proposed sidewalk extensions that we are looking at doing throughout town.”

Mann added, “If we can’t get approval from the state, we are planning to extend the sidewalk on Oenoke Ridge to Parade Hill [Road] this year, once we get a DOT permit, and I would like to be able to install that one with town funds if I can’t get DOT funds for it.

Police Commission Votes 3-0 To Extend Outdoor Dining Set-Ups on Main and Elm through Feb. 17

The Police Commission last week voted unanimously to allow Main and Elm Street restaurants to keep their COVID-19 outdoor dining set-ups—where tables are out on sidewalks, and some pedestrian access ways dip behind barriers into the street—for another month. Created last May and extended periodically since then, the temporary sidewalk and parking configurations are designed to give more outdoor dining space to restaurants that have been under changing capacity restrictions since the onset of COVID-19 virus. (As of Nov. 6, under the governor’s order, they’re allowed no more than 50% capacity total between indoor and outdoor dining.)

“It’s more that the weather’s been great,” Commission Chair Paul Foley said at the appointed body’s Jan. 20 meeting, held via videoconference.

Police Commission Approves Sunday Morning Partial Closure of Park Street for Church Services

Town officials voted last week in favor of closing the street in front of the Congregational Church of New Canaan for 90 minutes on Sunday mornings so that the faith community may gather and worship outside while maintaining social distancing. 

The Police Commission voted 3-0 in favor of the measure, which will apply to the short one-way stretch of Park Street atop God’s Acre from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Sundays. Deputy Chief John DiFederico, who received and presented the church’s request to the Commission, called it a “very reasonable request.”

“Most other churches in town have their own property and have the ability to expand outdoors into parking lots and what not, but the Congregational Church does not have that luxury,” DiFederico said during the Commission’s May 20 meeting, held via videoconference. “It is very easy to detour around,” he said. “It is not a state road or anything like that, so it would not be too difficult for us to manage. I don’t even know if we would need to station an officer out at that intersection.

Officials: New Canaan’s Shekaiba Bennett Set To Become First-Ever Woman To Serve on Police Commission

The Board of Selectmen are scheduled to vote Tuesday on the appointment of the first-ever woman to the New Canaan Police Commission. Shekaiba Bennett is a 16-year resident of the town who has served on the Historic District Commission, Democratic Town Committee, board of the Interfaith Council and New Canaan Library Art and Stoddard Art Committees and is co- chair of the United Nations Committee of New Canaan. Nominated to the selectmen through the DTC, Bennett said she was “deeply honored that I am given this opportunity to serve this town that I love.”

Asked why she pursued a nomination to the Police Commission specifically, she said, “I feel like it’s one of the commissions where you learn a lot about the town and what is going on. My history in the past 16 yrs of being in this town has always been getting involved in things that I can getter understand how the town operates, and I feel like this Commission is one of those that I, as a citizen of this town, can give back to the community.”

A professional documentary photographer and art educator who works as photography teacher at Greenwich High School, she also will be the first woman to serve on the three-member appointed body, officials say. Her nomination comes about 18 months after lifelong New Canaanite Beth Jones became the first woman appointed to the Fire Commission.