Historical Perspectives / Ed Chrostowski
Sharp drop in requests for parking lot permits
Published 1:04 am, Thursday, June 24, 2010
One-year permits for all-day parking in municipal lots were being issued at $35 a pop in the New Canaan Town Hall 48 years ago, but the bargains drew scant interest.
In fact, Administrative Officer Norm Lucas reported that more than 40 permit-holders had declined to renew and that "many" on the waiting list had decided not to apply for the Park Street and Talmadge Hill lots.
What Lucas described as "hardly a clamor" for permits was expected to have a negative impact on the Board of Finance's view of the Parking Study Committee's request that week for $1,500 for engineering studies of the four additional town lots it had proposed.
It was generally believed that the proposed lots would be rejected anyway. The committee, chaired by David Kirkbride, had recommended Town acquisition of the Vine Cottage and Red Cross properties next to the Town Hall and paving the lots after the buildings were removed. Almost immediately, the plan met with widespread public objections. (At the time, the Vine Cottage was the private residence of Dr. Corry and his family; years later, it was acquired by the town and refurbished at a cost of about $1 million. It now houses the Town Department of Human Services and other offices.)
The committee had been formed by the Board of Selectmen after voters twice defeated a plan to move the train station from Elm Street to Fairty Orchard, off Old Stamford Road, where there would be ample parking, leaving in-town lots open for shoppers and store and office workers.
Meanwhile, there were other downtown developments. Joseph Libner announced that his new office building, the first in town in several years, was ready for occupancy at the corner of Main and East Maple streets. He said offices in the building had been rented to the law firm of Julius Groher and John Dolan, architect Landis Gores, Realtor George Haynes and Attorney Don Morrison.
The start of summer also launched the travel season and the year's most unusual trip was mapped out by Dr. David Brown and Dr. Charlotte Brown. The Browns were going to Africa to work for six weeks in a 65-bed mission hospital in a village in Rhodesia and were taking their three children with them.
Getting their passports in order also, five New Canaan students were participating in the Experiment in International Living. Alison Baker was going to Italy for the summer, Lucy Lyden to Belgium, Brenda Walker to Japan, Elaine Johnson to Ireland and Joy Fraser to Austria. A busy summer was ahead also William Conklin who signed up for an American Youth Hostels bicycle tour of Eastern Europe.
There was excitement enough back home at New Canaan High School where 177 graduates, including three foreign exchange students who were awarded honorary diplomas, donned their caps and gowns, boys in red and girls in white.
Before graduation they attended a baccalaureate service at which the Rev. Chester Miller of the Wilton Congregational Church urged them not to be "conservative squares" and to have "less concern for security and more for opportunity."
The commencement speaker, Dr. John Forbay, a TWA executive, urged the teenagers to "join the human race" by being "aware of the needs of all people."
Highlighting the evening was an announcement that scholarships totaling $10,000 had been distributed among leading members of the graduating class.
There were other noteworthy awards that week.
Over in Darien, Dave Kelley of Carter Street rode "Windsor Castle," a bay gelding owned by Mrs. Samuel Magid, to the $2,500 first prize in the jumping class at the annual Ox Ridge Hunt Club horse show.
Then community life slowed to a summertime pace, a tempo suited better to graduation and bon voyage parties than to stress over finding a place to park.