Town Council postpones approval for senior housing and decked parking study grant
Updated 11:52 am, Friday, July 29, 2011
Town Council voted to postpone final approval for a grant application to the state regarding a feasibility study exploring possible senior housing and decked parking in the Lumberyard Parking Lot Wednesday night. However, they did allow First Selectman Jeb Walker to send in the application to the state by the Aug. 4 deadline as a placeholder. After that, Town Council has until Sept. 15 to give the final go ahead for the grant to move forward. Council said they will likely hold a special public hearing and meeting before that deadline. The vote had already been delayed after July 21 in order to gain more public opinion.
The grant application would be on behalf of the Senior Health Care and Housing Policy Development Team's Phase III initiative, chaired by Judy Bentley. The senior housing team decided on pursuing the grant nearly three weeks ago and wanted to get it done before the Aug. 4 deadline. However, in order to gain more public insight, they came up with the current scenario where the application is in on time but does not need final approval until Sept. 15. So if the town council decides they do not want to go forward with the grant, it can still be withdrawn. Both Bentley and Town Planner Steve Kleppin told council members that this grant would only pay for a study and does not mean any building proposals are in the works.
The news of anything happening with the lumberyard area has always been a hot button issue. New Canaan commuter Patrick Swearingen was not very happy with the idea of a study looking into decked parking.
"I've come here to prevent yet another divisive issue from pitting good citizens against each other just like the sidewalk, the bridge and the long range plan have done," Swearingen said. "Every commuter that I know that I have talked to about tiered parking at the lumberyard, thinks it's a bad idea."
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Another commuter Greg Smith also had strong views against anything happening in that area.
"I'm a commuter. I wouldn't want to go into a two or three tiered parking lot," Smith said. "Can you imagine how the traffic trying to get out of there in the evening or the morning right during rush hours? It's going to be an absolute nightmare."
To try and allay all these concerns, Kleppin cautioned that nothing is on the table just yet. If and when Town Council approves the grant before Sept. 15 and if New Canaan is even awarded the grant, the money, potentially $400,000, will go towards engineering and design study of the potentials.
"This is not a proposal to deck the lumberyard lot and add a hundred units of housing. This is to see if something like that is even feasible. What would even work on the site?" Kleppin said. "This is just to look at it. That's it, for the record."