‘That’s What Makes New Canaan Great’: High Praise for Health Officials, Volunteers Doing COVID-19 Vaccinations

Members of the Town Council last week gave high praise to New Canaan’s health director as well as the municipal staff members and volunteers who are working hard and effectively to ensure that residents are receiving vaccinations for COVID-19 virus in the phases outlined by the state. Councilman Steve Karl said he’s been hearing “a lot of positive statements out of our Lapham Community effort and how organized they are and how smooth it is over there.”

“They have turned Lapham Community Center into a really efficient” facility for administering vaccine shots, Karl said during the legislative body’s regular meeting, held Feb. 24 via videoconference. “And they went from 100 a day to 300, like just overnight,” he continued. “[New Canaan Health Director] Jenn [Eielson] has done an unbelievable job getting that facility up and running and getting our residents through there.

‘I’m Kind of Scratching My Head’: Councilmen Question 1913 Building-Related Clause in Draft Agreement Between Town, Library

The Board of Selectmen created new problems for New Canaan Library and its estimated $35 million rebuilding plan by reopening questions regarding preservation of its original 1913 building without the organization’s knowledge, members of the town’s legislative body said last week. Last March, the Town Council voted down a motion that would have effectively halted the library’s project for one year so that preservationists could figure out a use for the 1913 building and fundraise for its restoration and maintenance. The library is seeking a $10 million contribution from the town toward the project and is fundraising the balance. Yet it came to light last week that a draft agreement between the town and library—a Memorandum of Understanding or “MOU” that the selectmen approved and that now is making its way to the Board of Finance and, eventually, Town Council—includes a new clause that allows for a decision on whether to demolish the original 1913 library building to be put off for at least two years during construction. “I was surprised to see that paragraph in there, in the MOU, because I thought the MOU after waiting which is six months—you could actually say a year—where we emotionally came to the decision that we did,” Councilman Steve Karl said during the elected body’s regular meeting, held Feb.

New Canaan’s Most Popular Cars

The oldest automobiles registered in New Canaan is a 1915 Ford Model T and a 1915 Harley-Davidson Twin motorcycle, tax records show. After that, the oldest autos include a 1922 Seagrave Pumper, 1923 Model T and 1927 Rolls Royce, according to the most recently completed Grand List, which includes taxable real and motor vehicle property. Once again in New Canaan—host of the popular Caffeine & Carburetors car show (cancelled so far this year due to the COVID-19 public health emergency) and home to 92-year-old dealership in Karl Chevrolet, one of the best-established companies in town—two makes of cars stand out atop the list of the most commonly owned vehicles. Both BMW and Chevrolet cracked the 1,500 mark, whereas no other single car company reached 1,200 locally registered vehicles. 

Asked how the dealership and repair shop is faring during the public health emergency, Karl Chevrolet Vice President Steve Karl said they’re “very fortunate to have the support of our local community, especially during times like this.”

“September will mark our 93rd year in business and while we have faced many large challenges over the years, nothing could have prepared us for a global pandemic,” he said. “Like every local business, COVID has made us think outside the box and it has tested us in multiple ways, but our staff has stepped up and continues to fight through the issues every day.

New Canaan Volunteer Fire, EMS Leaders Seek Town’s Help To Bolster Recruitment, Retention 

Saying they need to improve recruitment and retention, leaders from New Canaan Fire Co. No. 1 and New Canaan Emergency Medical Services are asking the town to offer members incentives such as tax abatement, Waveny Pool membership and use of the Transfer Station. Surrounding towns already offer plusses such as property tax relief, pool passes and fuel reimbursement to volunteer emergency responders, according to New Canaan Fire Co. Assistant Chief Russ Kimes and New Canaan EMS Capt. Phil Sheibley. 

The volunteer ranks of their organizations have declined, as they have elsewhere, and now stand at record or near-record lows, Kimes and Sheibley told members of the Town Council at their March 24 meeting.