Public Works: Plan To Widen Sidewalks on Elm Street Will Result in a ‘Net Zero’ Change to Parking

Public works officials next week will will bring forward a proposal to widen several sections of sidewalks on Elm Street, chiefly on the north side of the road between South Avenue and The Playhouse. Mentioned during last month’s Police Commission meeting, the new configuration will make permanent some of the pandemic-related changes now in place with temporary barricades, as well as bolster pedestrian safety in a major shopping and dining area of downtown New Canaan, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. “We are looking at bumping out the sidewalks from the intersection with South Avenue up to and through The Playhouse on the northern side and then on the southern side, the crosswalk at The Playhouse itself and then the intersection of South Avenue and Elm Street,” Mann told members of the Selectmen’s Advisory Committee on Buildings and Infrastructure during their regular meeting Monday. “What that will do is that should help us on reducing the pedestrian crossing length of the crosswalks and then protecting the areas adjacent to the crosswalk, whereby right now it’s 25 feet on either side, if you have a hard bump-out you can actually reduce that requirement in certain locations,” he said during the meeting, held via videoconference. “And what it turns out to be is, we would lose five spaces on the northern side and gain five spaces on the southern side so it would be a ‘net zero’ change.”

Mann said he’s bringing the proposal to the Police Commission for approval at the appointed body’s April 21 meeting.

Town: Rebuilt or Relocated Animal Shelter At Least One Year Away

A project to rebuild or relocate New Canaan’s Animal Control shelter is at least one year away, town officials said this week. The town is studying different possibilities for a future shelter, including use of a building at Kiwanis Park, Public Works Director Tiger Mann told members of the Selectmen’s Advisory Committee on Buildings and Infrastructure during their regular meeting Monday. “The other thought that was if we were to remove the existing incinerator where it [the animal shelter] is currently housed, to then bring in a facility there,” Mann said during the meeting, held via videoconference. “Or, since it is a police function, possibly bringing it over to the Police Department. So we are looking at all options at present.

Committee Raises Question of Whether Renovating Police Station or Building Anew Is Best

The appointed body charged with planning for a new police station will start by researching whether it’s more prudent to renovate or build anew on-site or elsewhere in town, members said Thursday. At their first meeting, members of the Police Department Building Committee noted that occupying a structure while it’s being renovated presents practical problems, and that it costs $1 million or more to move a large part of a police force into a separate facility temporarily during construction. Stuart Sawabini, a former Police Commission chair who is advising the Committee as director of New Canaan’s Community Emergency Response Team, said that if a suitable location could be found, “my personal choice would be to build new.”

“The efficiency of the building is far greater when you have spaces that are purpose-specific,” Sawabini said during the meeting, held via videoconference. “So building a new building means you are designing it with only the items you really want in it. As compared to renovating a building where there’s bound to be spaces that are allocated to a prior use which the Police Department may not be able to utilize.