Scholarship Sunday most successful to date

To the Editor:

On behalf of the 2011 Scholarship Committee, we would like to thank the New Canaan community for helping us to make Scholarship Sunday, which was held April 3, the most successful in our history. From the donations of private citizens, as well as the many merchants and businesses who were sponsors of the drive, we thank you for your generosity. Without your continued financial support, we would not be able to help so many deserving graduates of New Canaan High School.

This year, more than 190 students participated in knocking on the doors of New Canaan's homes on Scholarship Sunday. Without the willingness of these students to donate their time to this important cause, the scholarship drive would never have been so successful. They are all to be congratulated on raising more than $36,000 so that NCHS graduating seniors and other recent graduates will be able to enjoy the college education that they worked so hard to prepare for.

We also appreciate the support given by the NCHS administration, who gave many hours of their time to make the scholarship drive a success. Every year, Tony Pavia and his administrative team ensure the drive committee members have the support needed from the school to make the scholarship drive happen. In addition, they come on Scholarship Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. to encourage the students heading out, and as they return, from walking door-to-door in the community.

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No fund-raising event would be possible without dedicated volunteers. We would like to thank the many parents who served on the scholarship committee and made the day run smoothly; this includes the countless hours of preparation to get the town-wide mailing ready, information and route packets updated, talking with merchants about ways to support the drive, order and deliver food for day of, recruiting students to sign-up during lunch -- all that is before Scholarship Sunday itself. To all who gave their energy, enthusiasm and expertise, we owe you a debt of gratitude.

The success of the scholarship drive is a community effort and we are grateful that New Canaan has always been generous in supporting the many charities our small town sponsors. Thank you again to the merchants and businesses who generously sponsored the 2011 Scholarship Drive, to the citizens who reached into their pockets to support our graduates, and to the NCHS students and administration who are the reason we find the Scholarship Drive so worthwhile to be a part of.

Francesca Lacerenza, Liz Mallozzi, Annette Terry

2011 NCHS Scholarship Drive Co-Chairmen

HHSC announces

new health initiatives

To the Editor:

The Health & Human Services Commission recently completed a detailed strategic needs analysis and recommendations for senior health care and housing for the next 15 to 20 years. In the final report accepted by the Board of Selectmen, we recommended "New Canaan seek to become an Optimal Livable Community," adapting to New Canaan's higher standards a national planning model which serves those who want to grow up and grow old in a safe, high-quality environment.

One of the major study needs identified for town seniors was increasing the number of no or low cost "cues" of a caring and vibrant senior friendly environment in our town. Such cues included insuring safe sidewalks in town, adding more benches for sitting in high pedestrian traffic locations, and offering a variety of healthy options for our active seniors.

Gyms aren't needed to keep seniors mentally and physically in shape, only shoes and regular walking. Recently, a new medical study from the National Academy of Sciences shows that while parts of the brain begin to atrophy at 55 to 60, that regular walking can expand and enhance memory. Weight control is another one of many physical benefits of walking to keep our seniors (and all of us) healthy.

To help the encouragement of more safe walking and healthy lifestyles by all citizens, the New Canaan Health & Human Services Commission is developing two town programs for 2011:

1) A campaign to install more sitting benches in the most walked areas of the town core. The cost of the benches would be donated by local service clubs, foundations, businesses and residents.

2) A new health promotion being developed with the YMCA for this fall to encourage all citizens to lose a few pounds with healthy diet and exercise.

We hope you will join the commission in improving citizen health by participating in these programs, as well as just walking more to enjoy our beautiful town.

Jim Lisher

Chairman

New Canaan Health & Human Services Commission

Sidewalks, trash

and dog poop

To the Editor:

If you walk in and around a half-mile radius from the downtown area in New Canaan, you will certainly realize that there are no sidewalks beyond a distance of a half-mile from downtown, with the exception of South Avenue (which is categorized as a state road). There is a reason for this -- downtown areas are where retail businesses are situated and there is a definite need for sidewalks because there is a significant amount of pedestrian foot traffic.

However, if you walk in New Canaan's downtown area, you will also notice that there are all kinds of trash on the sidewalks and streets, as well as dog poop. Some pedestrians are litterbugs and some dog owners are too lazy and inconsiderate to clean up. Just imagine a fly landing on your food when you dine at one of the many restaurants in downtown. Yuck! And yes, the sidewalks and homeowners along South Avenue have their share of trash and dog poop.

In addition to the numerous reasons NOT to construct new sidewalks along the lower section of Main Street and Old Norwalk Road, just remember that having sidewalks does have negative side effects. Don't let a tiny minority of residents mislead you into thinking that new sidewalks along lower Main Street and Old Norwalk Road will "benefit the entire community" (I quote this from an email blast by one resident).

On the contrary, they have persisted in digging their heels deeper on an unnecessary spending issue that will only serve their very narrow interests. Don't let them divert your tax dollars for something that is not a need. Please vote "yes" at the April 27 referendum and put an end to wasteful spending.

Frederick Chang

Vote no April 27

To the Editor:

The issue of sidewalks has become quite confusing to those of us trying to follow it. Here's what is clear to me: Main Street is a safety issue. We live in a beautiful, well-maintained town, and Main Street is just plain dangerous. The sidewalk ends suddenly at Oak Street, and if you are walking on it, you are then forced to take your chances and dodge traffic, or walk up to South. If you are driving and try to turn from Woodland Avenue for example, you have a compromised sight-line -- there is no sidewalk to remind drivers to watch for pedestrians. The sidewalk starts up again at Farm road -- it's a gap in the sidewalks that just seems illogical and dangerous to me.

In terms of the cost, we have learned that the average life of a sidewalk is 20 years. The cost per residence (not citizen) comes to approximately $3.08 per year. This would be taken out of our existing taxes, and would not add to them. This seems a workable cost for something so important. Not only would it beautify our town, but it would provide a safe route for our residents to use while walking, and for our children to use when going to the schools and playing fields. That seems like the very embodiment of responsible spending to me.

Kate Baliotti

A different perspective

I have read with great interest the debate over the proposed Long Range Plan. There were many plans initiated during my 10 years in office, most were accomplished by volunteers who gave generously of their time and energy. There are too many to mention, some are worth more discussion, the cost of the Plan of Conservation and Development needs some perspective.

The Plan of Conservation and Development referred to by the Long Range Planning Committee was last undertaken in 2003. The Town retained Glenn Chalder of Planimetrics at a cost of $15,000 to prepare the Plan. Among its many substantive findings, the Plan set forth principles and strategies to guide future residential, business and municipal development and related traffic issues. To suggest that $200,000 for a Long Range Plan will serve to offset the cost of a POCD is simply contrary to the facts.

One last point: as recommended by the Municipal Facilities Master Plan completed in 2003, the town appointed a very capable town hall building committee. Over a period of two years, architectural plans and final designs for the renovation of Town Hall were completed by KSQ architects, the principle having recently left Perkins Eastman. The cost was $280,000, hardly another study. The Town Hall renovation should have been completed by now, instead of being subjected to another review by another group of consultants.

Many excellent suggestions have been made by the public. The scope of Phase II is clearly too broad. Why would we consider options for replacing or relocating every Town Hall facility? No one will support such a waste of taxpayer money. Alternatively, the senior housing issue deserves more attention or it will never be resolved. I am not aware of anyone who is opposed to planning; only the hype that follows when it is used to validate a predetermined outcome.

We are fortunate to live in a charming, quintessential New England town. This does not happen by accident. It takes leadership. Credit is due those many volunteers and officials who "got it right."

Judy A. Neville

Vote no at sidewalk referendum

To the Editor:

As a lifelong resident and a volunteer EMT here in New Canaan, I strongly urge you to support a walkable community and the proposed Main Street sidewalk extension by voting NO to sending the road bond back to the Board of Finance.

Any public works project that promotes pedestrian safety as clearly as this project does, is long over due and well worth any additional tax money needed to complete.

I attended a recent town hall meeting where the clearly stated presentation verified the excellent financial ratings New Canaan has earned and enjoys.

As a town we can afford any additional expense this project will cost and as a taxpayer I support it 100 percent.

I would urge every homeowner / taxpayer to look at the many clear benefits to our Town the extension of this sidewalk will have on us as a community, safety is just one of them.

At the upcoming referendum on Wednesday, April 27, at New Canaan High School, Please vote `no' and connect the missing link to bring the sidewalks on Main, from Farm Road to the center of our very special town.

Michelle F. Buscher

Vote no on referendum

To the Editor:

I never would have thought that installing sidewalks on the street that serves as the gateway to our town center ("Main" Street) would stir up so much controversy, especially when those sidewalks will cost less than 0.3 percent of our annual budget and enhance our town for decades.

Whether or not the sidewalk opponents choose to believe it, "Main" Street is a pedestrian thoroughfare which connects many parts of our community to downtown. Main Street is frequently traveled by many pedestrians -- commuters, seniors, joggers, teenagers coming from Saxe, and families en route to the parks, library, schools, shops and restaurants.

I have experienced the daily challenge of trying to navigate Main Street by foot for six years. Without sidewalks, it's an accident waiting to happen.

I am outraged by this referendum and the actions of the New Canaan Citizens for Responsible Spending (NCCRS). To address their initial concern over "safety" and their property lines, the Town Council approved a $25,000 survey. Yet before the survey was completed, this same group petitioned for a $10,000 referendum -- clearly not an action that is consistent with their purported focus on "responsible spending." Worse still, the referendum jeopardizes the $4 million road repair plan. The sidewalk investment is less than 10 percent of the overall bond issue (talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water).

I struggle to understand how NCCRS is a credible authority on our municipal infrastructure priorities. How can NCCRS claim that road repaving is always more important than sidewalks, as if pedestrians simply don't exist or their safety is an inferior priority? However, what is most disturbing is the precedent being set. If we can't get sidewalks on "Main" street, what is the future of any sidewalks in New Canaan? And will all spending now be subject to referendums?

Nevertheless, I am energized and inspired by the 525-plus members of our community who have demonstrated their support by signing the clear and direct petition in favor of sidewalks. Let's continue down the path of making New Canaan a pedestrian-friendly community and vote "no" on the referendum.

Alison Minter

Legislators thank community

To the Editor:

We want to thank those who came to our recent New Canaan town hall meeting. As Connecticut braces for the many policy changes necessary to recover the state's weakened economy, hearing directly from families and businesses has become increasingly important.

The message from this meeting was clear; it is time for state government to rein in spending and make better choices for the residents of Connecticut. Individuals and employers discussed their concerns about Connecticut's anti-business environment, the effects of new and added taxation, proposals taxpayers fear they cannot afford and then questioned how we can responsibly rebuild the state's economy.

We will take these comments and concerns back to Hartford in an effort to make Connecticut fiscally healthier. Our goal is to close the state's budget gap through spending reductions and private sector job growth with increased accountability to the public. If the legislature does its job well this session, we can look forward to a return to a healthy state economy for not only our generation, but for many more to come.

Again, we thank all those for their participation and encourage your feedback. If you would like to voice your opinions about this, or other matters of concern regarding your state government, please contact our offices.

State Senator Toni Boucher

State Senator L. Scott Frantz

State Representative John

Hetherington

Sidewalks are

needed in town

To the Editor:

We think the Main Street sidewalk project should be Phase I of turning New Canaan into a walking community. By improving our town with sidewalks on our main thoroughfares, specifically the Main Street extensions, we will be facilitating our First Lady's objectives of getting our citizenry active and moving. Sidewalks help us connect to our community; neighbors, businesses, houses of worship and many civic facilities. This project would give many more citizens the ability to walk safely in our downtown areas.

We appreciate the Board of Finance sub committee's thoughtful analysis that recommends the town spread these costs over time, so that those of us using them today will share the financial burden with those using the sidewalks in the future. Installing these sidewalks (cement not brick) today is the most economical way to enhance our town's infrastructure. Vote "no" at the referendum on April 27 and contact yes2sidewalkonmain@gmail.com if you support sidewalks.

Kathleen and Bill Redman

Beth and Tim Dwyer

Jane Armstrong

Whitney and Nick Williams

Mary and BillFox

Trish and Pete McAleer

Lisa and Howard Smith

Margie and Marty Doran

Julie Taylor

Shirley Griffin

Anne and John Tropeano

Christine Stluka

MaryBeth and Bill Fessler

Anita and Frank Pelli

Barb and Walter McNulty

Cally and Romin Adl

Tish Keshin

Monica and Scott Webster

Amy and Miles Moffat

Nancy and Mike Shullman

Theresa and Craig Bowling

Susan and Dan Donnelly

Melissa and David Simmons

Mary and Brian Moran

Jean Marie and Kevin McLaughlin

Tracey Gould

Erin Hedley

Helen and Patrick McBrien

Jane and Pete Hunsinger

Jane and John Ponterotto

Betsy and Domenic Sammarco

Rose Walker

Denise and Frank Coco

Julie and Joe Carrabino

Gina Barber

Thanking Fresh Air Fund volunteers

To the Editor:

It is with sincere gratitude that I recognize the tireless efforts of Fresh Air Fund volunteers in the Southwest Coast as the country celebrates National Volunteer Week. Their commitment to helping New York City children is exemplary for all community members and truly embodies the spirit of the 2011 National Volunteer Week theme, "Celebrating People in Action."

Fresh Air volunteers work in several capacities throughout the year in 13 Northeastern states and Canada to help make The fund's programs possible. Caring Fresh Air host families open their homes and share the everyday joys of summertime with their Fresh Air guests. Our local volunteer leaders -- many of whom are also hosts -- serve on our local committees, plan summer activities, publicize the program and interview prospective host families. Additionally, individuals and businesses give generously of their time and resources to make the Friendly Town host family program throughout this area a great success each and every summer.

The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.7 million New York City children since 1877. For more information on how you can help to continue this wonderful tradition of volunteering, please call The Fresh Air Fund at 800-367-0003 or visit www.freshair.org.

Jenny Morgenthau

Executive Director