New Canaan BOS approves $175K for LRPC
Published 5:37 pm, Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Selectman Rob Mallozzi voted against the appropriation.
This marks the second appropriation for the group's plan since last year's approval of $25,000 for Phase I bringing the total to $200,000. However, the appropriation must still be approved by the Board of Finance and Town Council before the LRPC and its consultant, Perkins Eastman, can move forward. The final document showcasing the scope of work from Phase I will also be completed within the next week according to LRPC Chairman Christine Wagner.
Residents were present at the meeting to voice their opinion on the appropriation and plan in general. Fred Chang, New Canaan resident, brought two signs showing his staunch opposition to the LRPC and its spending in particular.
"In my humble opinion, the town does not need to spend that type of money," he said. "I did not see much of any substance being reported as to what came out of Phase I."
Chang was referring to a presentation the LRPC and consultants made to the Board of Selectmen outlining their request for Phase II. The presentation included all the facilities they expect to include in the final scope of work as well as what is expected to take place in Phase II.
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As stated before, the facilities include Town Hall, the fire department, teen center, Vine Cottage, movie theater, Irwin Park, Waveny Park, highway department building, the police department, library and the school administration offices as well as various parking lots and sidewalks. According to the presentation, the consultants will analyze the existing facilities and develop possible alternatives in terms of location, renovation, operational efficiencies, traffic and parking impacts among other issues. They also expect to hold a public workshop evaluating possible alternatives. Once that's done, a draft master plan will be developed for a public presentation before the final document can be produced.
Christine Wagner and her committee stressed that a large benefit to the final master plan will be the cost aspect, where recommendations for construction or renovation will have an estimated cost attached to it as well.
"Prior studies had no cost details on how to get those recommendations to move forward," Arnold Karp, LRPC member, said. "That is the difference."
In fact, out of the $175,000 requested, $10,000 is devoted to cost estimation while $3,500 is geared towards budget planning.
"I am concerned with the dollars," Mallozzi said.
He stressed major concerns regarding spending $200,000 on a plan he believes is not very popular or fiscally prudent.
"Are you confident as a committee that the public wants this?" he asked. "Because I am not confident, as a Selectman, that they are."
Resident Roy Abramowitz agreed with Mallozzi, stressing an importance on funding the fire and police department.
"If we can't afford to give the fire department new trucks, then we cannot go any further," he said.
Still, compared to the contentious issue it was last year, the plan has come a long way in terms of the public perception according to the Selectmen.
"I think you have done exactly what the public wanted and opened a dialogue," Mallozzi added.
First Selectman Jeb Walker also asked Wagner to comment on the current sentiment of the public compared with the months passed.
"I think we are past the point where people thought we were going to bulldoze buildings and construct skyscrapers," Wagner said. "That notion has been dispelled."
The notion has been dispelled and while there are residents against the plan, some are supporting it.
"I've lived here for 52 years and there has been a comprehensive plan like this done," Laszlo Papp, resident and chairman of the Town's Planning and Zoning Commission, said. "I think this comprehensive plan is good. If you don't have an overview or a plan, you're blind."
The LRPC is expected to present its Phase II request to the Board of Finance on March 1 and the Town Council on March 16.