While he or she has a right to flag the issue, the anonymous nature of a complaint lodged with the state that will likely result in downtown New Canaan losing some parking as well as pedestrian crosswalks is troublesome, Selectman Kit Devereaux said Tuesday.
Town officials have said representatives of the Connecticut Department of Transportation, as a result of the complaint, are seeking “immediate compliance” with a 1949 state law that requires a 25-foot no-parking zone on either side of pedestrian crosswalks on Main Street.
Reached by NewCanaanite.com, DOT officials said the complaint came in via phone and there’s no record of the complainant’s name.
The “anonymous aspect of one of our residents requiring this work” is bothersome, Devereaux said during the Board of Selectmen’s regular meeting.
“I just wish they would come forward and justify what they are doing so we can all understand rather than feel it’s some kind of anonymous assault,” she said at the meeting, held in Town Hall.
The comments came as Devereaux and First Selectman Kevin Moynihan approved a $7,000 contract with Fairfield-based transportation consultant Frederic P. Clark Associates to study the situation and recommend a solution that will minimize the loss of parking (Selectman Nick Williams was absent). Public Works Director Tiger Mann has said that could involve removing the northern crosswalks where Main intersects with Elm Street and East Avenue.
“It’s not the best alternative, because right now people walk where they want to,” Mann said. “If we remove [the crosswalks], the fear is that they still would continue to follow that same [path] and be unprotected.”
The consultant is expected to finish the study within about 10 days, Mann said.
Mann agreed with Devereaux regarding the anonymous nature of the complaint.
“We are open to residential complaints and suggestions,” Mann said, adding that the Department of Public Works responds within 24 at the outside.
“I am quite upset about it as well,” he said. “I think there were other avenues to pursue rather than contacting DOT headquarters, but we are where we are.”
The complainant specifically flagged Main Street between Cherry and East Avenue, a stretch that doubles as state Routes 106 and 124.
A local man’s formal complaint last summer led to a local road, Elm Street, losing 13 parking spaces when the 25-foot buffer zone was painted into newly repaved asphalt at five crosswalks.
Mann said that with the consultant’s recommendation in hand, town officials intend to explain the nature of downtown New Canaan to the DOT, including that while there’s high traffic volume, there’s also high pedestrian traffic, that there have been no incidents of pedestrians struck by motor vehicles along the stretch in question and that vehicular speeds are low.
Moynihan asked why, if that’s a state road, the DOT doesn’t pay for the work. Mann said it’s “because they consider parking stalls under the municipality.”
“They don’t do parking stalls, they don’t do parking work,” Mann said, though towns must follow state law.