Town Building Evaluation and Use Committee

Recent Articles

Officials Mull Current Use vs. Cost of Town-Owned Buildings

As officials discuss town-owned buildings such as Irwin House, Gores Pavilion, and Vine Cottage, residents are raising questions about the town’s responsibility to maintain those structures and how their use can be measured—factors expected to help determine their futures. The topic was heavily discussed at last week’s “Forum on Public Buildings,” starting when a resident asked why, in the report issued in December by the Town Building Evaluation & Use Committee, Mead Park Brick Barn is only being given a six-month window for proposals to be submitted and presented when all other buildings were given one full year. One panelist, Penny Young—a Town Councilman who served as co-chair of that committee—answered that new Canaan is “looking at very different economic times.”

“We are looking at every single line item in our budget with a critical eye and, also, looking at it from a perspective of ‘What’s the town’s responsibility and the provision of services and is the town’s responsibility the preservation of building, or is it community response to those buildings?’ ” Young said during the forum, held April 26 at Town Hall. She continued: “The Carriage Barn and the Powerhouse [agreements] were done years ago before those kinds of thoughts were being exercised. What is also being considered [for] those two building and others, like the Nature Center buildings, [is] how many New Canaan residents are utilizing those buildings? Continue Reading →

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Did You Hear … ?

Urged by local leaders, dozens of New Canaanites attended Tuesday night’s ConnDOT hearing in Stamford on proposed service cuts to the New Canaan branch of Metro-North Railroad—reductions that government and business officials both have called potentially devastating. Scroll through the gallery above for photos and a transcription of First Selectman Kevin Moynihan’s comments at the hearing. ***

South School failed the most recent surprise health inspection of its cafeteria kitchen, and East School and New Canaan High School, as well as St. Luke’s School, also failed recent inspections. Food items in a 2-door Hobart at South were discarded after the cooler was found to be at 63.7 degrees—far higher than required—during a May 2, 2017 inspection. Continue Reading →

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Town Council Members Mull Using ‘Outback’ Building To House Alternative High School Program

The superintendent of schools on Wednesday night presented a subcommittee of New Canaan’s legislative body with details of a proposal to create an “alternative high school” program for students with specific health challenges in New Canaan to be housed at the former Outback Teen Center behind Town Hall. Dr. Bryan Luizzi and Assistant Superintendent of Pupil and Family Services Darlene Pianka outlined their vision for a program to replace New Canaan High School’s current Afternoon Instructional Program, or ‘AIP,’ which is held in the school’s media center. AIP is currently only available to four to 10 upperclassmen at a time, while Luizzi’s proposal will potentially provide full- or half-day instruction for six to 12 students in grades 8-12 based on their educational and therapeutic needs, they told members of the Town Council’s Education Committee. The idea of locating the alternative high school at Outback had been broached with a town committee in November and the program itself was presented to the Board of Education on Monday as part of the approximately $90.7 million proposed budget for New Canaan Public Schools next year. Throughout Luizzi and Pianka’s presentation, Education Committee members Tom Butterworth, Rich Townsend, Joe Paladino and Christa Kenin raised questions about the potential costs of the program and the suitability of the Outback as the program’s physical site. Continue Reading →

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Board of Ed Offices Should Be Moved To Underused Third Floor of New Canaan Police Department, First Selectman Says

New Canaan should consider moving the school district’s administrative offices into the under-used third floor of the Police Department building on South Avenue rather than Waveny House or Irwin Park, the town’s highest elected official said Thursday. First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said he didn’t agree with a committee’s recently published recommendation that Waveny or Irwin should be considered as alternatives to the New Canaan Public Schools’ administrators renting office space downtown for about $300,000 per year. The police headquarters at 174 South Ave.—a structure built 90 years ago as New Canaan’s first high school—is “a much more viable alternative,” Moynihan said in response to questions from NewCanaanite.com at a press briefing in his office with local media outlets. “I think it’s absurd to think about putting the Board of Education or the administration into Waveny House and I think Irwin Park would be equally absurd,” he told NewCanaanite.com. (The briefing also was attended by the New Canaan Advertiser and New Canaan News.)

The renovations that would be needed to make either of those sites suitable would be prohibitively expensive, Moynihan said, and in the case of Waveny, “inconsistent with what the town” wants the building to be. Continue Reading →

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Editorial: A Disputed FOI Question Regarding ‘Illegal Meetings’

In February, the Board of Selectmen appointed a seven-member committee and tasked it with one of the most consequential jobs assigned to a municipal body: Study the physical condition, uses and capital needs of all 56 town-owned buildings in New Canaan (except the school district’s) and report back to the town. As a one-person news operation, I often make difficult decisions about what to cover, and forgo coverage of entire boards or commissions—I rarely covered the Charter Revision Commission, for example, never go to Deer Committee meetings and did not cover the Playhouse Committee after its second meeting. But the Town Building Evaluation & Use Committee—an advisory body—was to make recommendations (in a report originally scheduled for September delivery) with wide implications for the town, including whether to raze, sell, invest in or use differently buildings such as Waveny House, Vine Cottage, the former Outback Teen Center and Irwin House. I decided to attend every meeting I could and report back to our readers on what they were discussing. My goal was to clue people in as to the committee’s thought process as its work unfolded. Continue Reading →

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