‘The Building Is Going To Come Down’: First Selectman Vows To Demolish ‘Mead Park Brick Barn,’ Withholds Details on How

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A rendering of Mead Park Brick Barn after a proposed exterior renovation from the New Canaan Preservation Alliance. By Mark Markiewicz

Without specifying just how it would happen, New Canaan’s highest elected official said Thursday that the century-old brick structure at the northern edge of Mead Park—a former fuel depot that historic preservationists want to save while others want to raze—will be demolished.

Referring vaguely to “a process” regarding what preservationists call the “Mead Park Brick Barn,” First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said during a press briefing in his office at Town Hall that “it’s going to play out and then the building is going to come down.”

The most recent town body to weigh in on the future of what has also been called the “Richmond Hill Garage,” the Planning & Zoning Commission, voted unanimously at its Oct. 30 meeting to “abandon” the building—checking off a box required by state law in cases where a municipality divests itself of real property. Yet P&Z’s vote appears to have no bearing on a separate decision that falls to the Board of Selectmen—namely, to approve the contracts for a company to physically knock the building down and cart away its remains. The selectmen during their Oct. 23 meeting decided to forgo a vote on those contracts, and the matter did not arise at the Board’s meeting this week.

Asked by NewCanaanite.com about the process he envisioned, Moynihan said only that “it will go to other town bodies before it comes back to the Board of Selectmen.” He declined to say what town bodies those might be. 

Regarding P&Z’s decision and fallout for the Barn, Moynihan said “I think it has implicit consequences as to what they [P&Z commissioners] would be willing to do about use of the property.”

One local nonprofit group dedicated to historic preservation here, the New Canaan Preservation Alliance, has proposed converting the lower level of the Barn into low-impact office use. Doing so would require P&Z approval for a change in the use of the building, and Moynihan said “you can extrapolate” from the Commission’s decision about abandoning the structure about how it would vote regarding the proposed new use. After a unanimous decision to abandon the Barn, it would be “pretty inconsistent then to permit a use,” he said.

Moynihan long has spoken in favor of demolishing the Barn. Selectman Kit Devereaux has said she has great respect for the NCPA’s view on the matter. Selectman Nick Williams has said the building must either have its exterior restored very soon or come down, and indicated that he would be willing to give the NCPA 90 days (until some time in mid-January) to find the funding it needs to restore and maintain the structure—that’s the length of time that the successful bidder for the demolition job is bound. In making his arguments, Williams has referred to the importance of encouraging and respecting such public-private partnerships in New Canaan.

3 thoughts on “‘The Building Is Going To Come Down’: First Selectman Vows To Demolish ‘Mead Park Brick Barn,’ Withholds Details on How

  1. I found your headline and article to be of interest given First Selectman Kevin Moynihan’s swearing-in ceremony speech from November 2017. He addressed the town bodies and residents who crowded into Town Hall.

    In his speech Moynihan stated:

    “So first, leadership with purpose—and that leadership will go hand-in-hand with leadership through integrity and transparency.

    The people’s trust can only be earned and kept through integrity, honesty and truth. Accordingly, my policy will be to govern with open books, open debates and an open door.”

    What happened to integrity and transparency with the Mead Park Brick Barn process?????

  2. Ha ha. Nothing like official arrogance. No wonder so many of the public loath elected and appointed officials, and many do not partake in elections even when ginned up. We are used to such things coming out of the Beltway, but such arrogance is no stranger at the local level.

  3. While personally I am in favor of this building coming down, I am (once again) appalled by our First Selectman’s dismissive attitude, this time towards his fellow members on the Board of Selectmen who voted to give more time for a preservation case to be made. Mr. Moynihan does not rule by fiat here in New Canaan.

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