If you've been wondering about New Canaan's much-discussed long-range plan, and you want to learn more or contribute ideas, the Long Range Planning Committee is hosting a brainstorming session June 27 to discuss the future of town hall, the fire station, police station, school administrative offices and other facilities.

This will be a creative session to solicit public comment to preliminary ideas already generated and to generate additional ideas for further consideration.

The town, through the work of the Long Range Planning Committee, will develop a comprehensive capital plan for the execution of municipal projects to meet the long-term needs of the town via a master plan. Development of the plan is an open process and participation by the community is essential to help guide the priorities and maintain the town's sense of community and history. Not only will the plan detail what projects the town deems essential to undertake, but what it chooses not to do.

Since the approval process through the town bodies consisted of several additional meetings for the Town Council to solicit public input on the planning contract, the team could not start its work until mid-May as opposed to April 1. With summer around (and the concurrent difficulties that brings in public attendance), the project team decided to continue with a public session as planned, though it will be earlier in the planning process than originally scheduled.

While additional time would have allowed the team to more fully analyze program requirements, present plan alternatives and develop an evaluation matrix comparing alternatives against criteria such as operational efficiency and traffic impacts, holding the public session at this time has the benefit of bringing public comment and ideas earlier into the process. The team will hold additional public sessions in the fall.

To date, the project team has reviewed prior work and conducted interviews with facility users to understand and begin evaluation of the current operating and physical environment of the town. The current step in the process is idea generation which requires the free and open exchange of ideas to ensure that divergent points of view from the public are heard. The team will consider options for new, renovated, and upgraded facilities, including parking, and the option of not including some of the facilities. A goal of this public session is to welcome ideas so that the community can engage in discourse of the issues. People may opine one way or another on various issues and aspects of a project and the team will hear those opinions.

There will be an open house at 6:30 p.m., during which time participants will have the opportunity to see, interact with, and discuss facility alternatives with each other and with the Long Range Planning Commission, town officials, and professional planning and design consultants. The public session will start at 7:30 p.m. with a short presentation of where the team is to date and the remaining project schedule. The presentation will include an existing inventory and needs assessment for various town buildings, as well as an overview of the preliminary ideas that were displayed and discussed at the open house session. Public comment, questions and ideas will follow.

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