Almost immediately after Chairman Mark DeWaele's gavel fell inside Town Hall, making the appropriation official, the deep, low sound of a fire truck horn could be heard honking in celebration, coming most likely from the firehouse across the street.
The honking inspired a bout of laughter from council members.
"The boys and their toys," Councilwoman Christine Hussey said, laughing.
The new truck will not arrive in New Canaan for at least another year, however, as the specifications must be worked out and the truck must be custom built. The Fire Department needs a truck light enough that it will not break the concrete floor of the firehouse, and narrow and agile enough that it will be able to fit into New Canaan's long and sometimes winding driveways.
The Fire Department keeps three pumper trucks on hand. The newest one is the "workhorse" truck, the next newest one is kept in strategic reserve, meaning it only gets used when the primary truck is in use or down for repair. The oldest truck is considered to be in deep reserve. Currently, that third truck, Engine 9, is a retro-1976 model bought second-hand from the Town of Westport for $100.
"And that's about what it's worth," said Assistant Fire Chief Jack Hennessey.
Additionally, Town Council approved an appropriation for a new sidewalk at East School. Although listed as a $55,000 appropriation, Public Works Director Mike Pastore said the bid he wanted to use was only $41,000, though one bid came in as low as $31,000.
The council's debate centered on whether to add parking spaces and use granite or asphalt curbs and concrete or asphalt sidewalks.
Pastore explained that people use the grassy area by the sidewalk for parking and have turned it into what he called a "mud bath." Reducing the mud area and replacing it with four or five parking spaces accounted for about $9,800 he said.
To create parking spaces downtown, said Councilman Steve Karl, costs about $13,000 per spot, voicing his support for the expense.
Councilman Roger Williams hesitated at the addition of parking spaces, in part because the sidewalk appropriation came to the council under the guise of "safety related needs."
"Let's be judicious about this. It came to us as a sidewalk issue, not a parking issue. Let's be conscious of the dollars," he said.
Another issue was whether to use asphalt for curbs, which Pastore estimated to cost about $4 per foot, or whether to use granite curbs, which cost about $44 per foot.
Councilman Tom O'Dea noted that the asphalt curbs are not as durable and can get chewed up by snowplows during the winter, requiring repairs.
"After the winter, I noticed asphalt curbing is often pulled up all over town [because of plowing]. I have to believe that the long-run cost of the granite is cheaper than replacing asphalt." He added that Tiger Mann, assistant director of public works, noted that some of granite curbs "last 30 or more years."
"Well, it's millions of years old already so it's going to last," Pastore responded, drawing chuckles from the council.
The sidewalk portion of the appropriation was amended from $55,000 to $41,000 by Williams.
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