The New Canaan Town Council approved the final step in the Town Hall building process Sept. 19, approving $14.8 million in bonds for construction of new parts and renovations of old parts of the building.
Much of the discussion of the $14.8 million project centered around whether or not the building's parking lot would be wide enough.
"Anyone that lives in New Canaan knows that if you are walking two abreast at that pinch point (the narrowest point), there is no way that two people and two cars can walk safely," council member Steve Karl said. "We need to address it without putting a little tiny sidewalk there. I know it's going to be expensive, but this whole project is expensive."
In response, the principal architect of the project, Armand Quadrini of KSQ Architects, said widening driveway would require moving the stone wall, originally built during the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration, at a cost of $200,000.
Town Hall Building Committee member Kathleen Corbet said she'd had similar fears about the width of the driveway and had parked an SUV at the pinch point and videotaped cars navigating around it without trouble. Additionally, the plans call for a speed table -- a long speed bump -- and signs indicating that cars should drive carefully.
"I think it would be crazy to throw another $200,000 at this project," Councilman Robert Hamill said. "Interest rates have been good, and have even done well this week, so sell those bonds as fast as you can."
In the end, the council decided to accept the plans as they are, but will leave open the option to move the wall down the road.
Initially planned as a roughly $12.5 million project, the price tag increased following a March 11 community meeting where residents spoke in favor of a grander building. Over the following months, Quadrini and the building committee fleshed out the building, bringing the cost to $14.8 million. That was deemed too high, and through value engineering and trimming, was brought down to $14.1 million.
Still, the Town Council approved up to $14.8 million in bonds. Finance Director Dawn Norton said the amount bonded ultimately depends on how much the contracts for the project cost. The town cannot bond for more than the cost of the project, which could be lower than $14.8 million, and is not authorized to go above that.
However, according to Town Hall Building Committee Chairman Michael Avgerinos, $700,000 is required for non-construction-related costs, including furniture for the new building, construction manager fees and installing a retaining wall by the Outback Teen Center to create additional parking. That money is not included in the construction cost, which will be bid out to a single builder.
Including soft costs, demolition and relocation, the entire project will cost $17.9 million, $3.2 million of which was previously approved.
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