NEW CANAAN — While one brick barn might get demolished on Richmond Hill Road, another one gets replaced at the Nature Center.

The one at the Nature Center, however, will house four therapeutic donkeys.

In May, Bill Flynn, director of the Nature Center, wrote a letter to the Board of Selectmen explaining Bethany Zaro, a New Canaan resident, was gifting the four donkeys to the Nature Center along with a $20,000 donation.

As the Nature Center is town property, any improvements to the land require approval from several town bodies; it has already obtained approval from the selectmen and the health department hasn’t brought up concern, according to of Public Works Director Tiger Mann. The Board of Finance approved the new barn at its Tuesday meeting.

Town Council member Penny Young, who is also on the Town Building Evaluation and Use Committee, brought up questions about having yet another building in the town’s already burgeoning list.

“Is the current owner retaining ownership? Will she be taking care of them every day, 365 days a year regardless of the weather? What are the ages of these donkeys?” Young asked at the town council meeting Oct. 17.

Mann clarified a barn was being replaced with a new one and that Zaro would look after the four donkeys, all of whom are in advanced age.

“She’s taken care of them since she’s had them,” Mann said. “She lives closer to them now but yes, she’ll be taking care of them.”

While the town council approved the relocation of the barn, the Board of Finance was more skeptical of the idea, particularly with how the renovated structure would be maintained after the donkeys passed away.

“It’s great that so many people want to contribute to the town,” finance board member George Blauvelt said. “But people move out and pass away and the town is still obligated of the maintenance for this gift.”

Though many of the finance members couldn’t hold back laughter at the nature of the topic, many returned to the argument that this was a building the town would look after and questioned the funding source and if it would be maintained.

“The Nature Center has no money,” finance member Amy Carroll said. “It’s yet another building we’re taking care of — we do this all the time.”

First Selectman Kevin Moynihan, an ex-officio member of the finance board, clarified the shed would replace the goat shed and that the two goats, six chickens and four donkeys would live together.

The Board of Finance didn’t approve the item unanimously; five members voted in favor and three abstained. None voted in opposition.

The item now goes to the Planning and Zoning Commission for their Oct. 30 meeting and to the town council, again, for their Nov. 14 meeting.

humberto.juarez@hearstmediact.com