Selectman Devereaux Seeks To See Proposals from Parties Who Want To Buy Vine Cottage

Selectman Kit Devereaux on Tuesday called for New Canaan’s highest elected official to make a review of proposals to purchase a prominent town-owned building downtown “more transparent” than so far considered. 

Telling First Selectman Kevin Moynihan that Vine Cottage is “important to a lot of people,” Devereaux asked that responses to the town’s request for proposals for the building be made available for public review. “The people own the building and I think they deserve to know how the selection is made,” Devereaux said during the Board of Selectmen’s regular meeting, held in Town Hall. The Board voted 2-1 in June to approve an ‘RFP’ for Vine Cottage, with Devereaux opposing the move and Selectman Nick Williams and Moynihan in favor. Last month, Devereaux pressed Moynihan to allow herself and Williams to see the proposals. Noting that Moynihan during a media briefing last week disclosed that four parties have shown interest in the ca.-1859 building located opposite the fire house on Main Street, Devereaux said that in making a decision among “that essentially is making the choice for the town, so I think it should be as transparent as possible.”

Moynihan said his plan has been to sit down with the Department of Public Works director and buildings superintendent, as well as the chairman of the Town Council and Board of Finance, to make a recommendation to the selectmen about what to do next.

Selectmen Vote 2-1 To Solicit Proposals for Sale of Vine Cottage

The Board of Selectmen voted 2-1 Tuesday to solicit proposals from those interested in acquiring a prominent antique building on Main Street from the town. The request for proposals for Vine Cottage, a turreted ca.-1859 structure located opposite the firehouse, would allow for a sale or ground lease to a prospective buyer. Among other requirements, the Town Council would need to hold a public hearing prior to any sale. Though Selectman Kit Devereaux voted against issuing the RFP, saying it was short-sighted since no one knows what New Canaan’s future needs for such a building would be, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectman Nick Williams voted in favor of it. Williams noted that the New Canaan Department of Human Services is leaving Vine Cottage for the former Outback Teen Center.

Moynihan: Selectmen May Vote on RFP for Sale of Vine Cottage Next Week

The Board of Selectmen next week will review documents that could lead to the sale of Vine Cottage, New Canaan’s highest elected official said Tuesday. According to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan, the selectmen will review an RFP to either sell the gabled Main Street building or offer “a land lease with a condition that it be done with historic preservation intentions, with an easement.”

The selectmen “will hopefully approve an RFP” during their May 21 meeting, Moynihan told members of the Board of Finance. 

Before New Canaan sells the property, the Town Council would need to hold a public hearing, Moynihan said during the finance board’s regular meeting. Located opposite the firehouse, the 2,334-square-foot Vine Cottage was built in about 1859 and in recent years has housed the New Canaan Department of Human Services. 

That agency is moving into the lower floor of the former Outback Teen Center. Though Selectman Kit Devereaux has called for more public input prior to the town divesting itself of the building, finance board members have pushed for its sale. 

The Town Building Evaluation & Use Committee in its December 2017 report said the town should put off a decision on renovating the building until the future home of the Board of Ed is determined. The following summer, Moynihan noted that the town’s five-year capital plan assumed the antique structure was no longer in New Canaan’s portfolio. 

His comments to the Board of Finance this week came during the first selectman’s regular update on town matters.