‘Try To Have a Dialogue’: Following Complaints, P&Z Urges Talks Between YMCA, Neighbors


Officials are urging the YMCA and neighborhood residents to communicate directly with each other and regularly, after some who live near the facility lodged complaints with Planning & Zoning that conditions of a major renovation, now underway, are not being met.

Specifically, residents of eight homes on Surrey Road, Putnam Road and Danvers Lane told P&Z in a recent letter and in person Tuesday night that the Y now that construction is underway isn’t complying with conditions regarding sidewalk repair, safety monitors, screening, drainage and traffic.

P&Z Chairman John Goodwin during the group’s regular monthly meeting that the town “can’t police everything” and asked the parties “to try to have a dialogue and see if you can’t work out a lot of these things.”

“My own personal take from reading the respective letters is that technically the Y has not done certain things, but on the other hand there is logic as to why they have not done some things here and now,” Goodwin said at the meeting, held in a Town Hall board room.

P&Z in April 2014 approved the Y’s estimated $20 million project on 37 conditions (see meeting minutes here). Construction started about three weeks ago, and is expected to last about 18 months. The Y has a dedicated website for the project here.

Officials from local building firm Karp Associates, in their capacity as an owner’s representative for the YMCA, appeared before P&Z at the meeting to request clarification on one condition and an exception on another:

  • Condition requiring that heavy construction vehicles will be restricted to entering the work site from Putnam Road and only between 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., then again from 3:30 p.m. until the end of the day (as per New Canaan’s noise—owner’s rep seeking an exception, whereby concrete trucks could arrive at 7 a.m. in order to complete necessary “monolithic” pours (expected to be a total of three or four days);
  • Condition requiring safety monitors at the Putnam Road entrance to the construction site and at Surrey Road and South Avenue during all hours where work is occurring on the site —owner’s rep seeking clarification that the intent of the rule is for days when heavy construction vehicles are traveling through the residential area.

Paul Stone of Karp Associates said that applicants on behalf of the Y had asked when acquiring a special permit for the renovation about concrete vehicles arriving at the site at 7 a.m. in order to avoid queuing in the street. There’s too much concrete needed for the pool (and a major structural wall, according to Arnold Karp, the company’s founder and president) to schedule concrete vehicles during normal hours, as they must coordinate a continuous pouring to preserve the structural integrity of the pool (and wall), Stone said.

“The amount of yards and the amount of trucks that would have to come in, we calculated as we moved the process forward and we’ve developed the plans that there are more concrete trucks required for the pour, which we have to do in one pour for the new pool that is being constructed, that it would mean backing up—even with queuing on the site—it would mean backing up into the road, which we didn’t want to do,” he said. “So to allow that not to happen, we are requesting an exception, just for the concrete trucks to come in an hour and a half earlier than what is condition is stating. And the reason is, of course, the health and safety issue.”

Asked by commissioner Jack Flinn why the issued was fully vetted during the permitting process, Stone said: “There wasn’t enough detail on the plans and they couldn’t calculate enough earlier in order to present that.”

Commissioner Claire Tiscornia said she she didn’t like the idea of trucks coming in while parents were walking their kids to school.

“If I had a hundred concrete trucks coming down my street at seven in the morning, I would say, ‘What’s going on? This is crazy,’ ” Tiscornia said.

Karp agreed to place additional safety monitors in the area for the three or four days the concrete trucks are expected to arrive, and to notice nearby residents two weeks in advance.

The commission approved the exception unanimously. P&Z also clarified that the safety monitors need to be at South Avenue and Surrey Road only for days when heavy traffic is coming through. Karp said that will be somewhere in the range of 50 total days during the project. Stone said there’s already a construction trailer at Putnam Road where vehicles are accessing the YMCA site, so there already is a safety monitor there.

Putnam Road residents Steve Hoover and Michael Dorfsman spoke on behalf of the residents who had filed a letter with P&Z citing ways in which the project had run afoul of conditions placed in the special permit.

Hoover called the matter of the sidewalk—that “the YMCA shall repair any portion of the sidewalk between the construction entrance and pedestrian access of Putnam Road prior to the installation of any site disturbance or construction activity”—a “basic requirement that was negotiated extensively.”

“That sidewalk is broken, it’s lifting, it has been broken more with the trucks crossing it,” Hoover said. “This was specifically required as condition #6 so that children do not end up walking up and down Putnam, which is what they are doing now because the sidewalks are broken.”

Dorfsman cited failures in screening and other areas and said: “Don’t run roughshod over the neighborhood.”

Karp said that the sidewalk is owned not by the YMCA but by the town, and that the understanding always has been that it will be repaired post-construction. He added that he’s had DPW officials out on the building site to look at the sidewalk, and that it’s been difficult to communicate with neighbors when they’re coming at different times, two or three people, to lodge concerns.

“We are more than happy to have ongoing dialogue with one representative rather than at various times,” Karp said.

Commissioner Dick Ward said he was concerned that there’s some dispute about whether some of the carefully drafted conditions appear to have been violated, and added that the Y seems to be willing to report regularly to an owner’s representative. He suggested that one of the neighbors in attendance might take on that role.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *