The day after the Board of Finance approved a to the Long Range Planning Committee, and the day before the Town Council is scheduled to hold a public meeting to hear arguments for and against spending as much as $1 million to ., Fred Chang took his message to the streets.
Chang stood in front of the Post Office at the corner of Park and Cherry Streets from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday morning, with placards and a petition. He gathered a couple dozen signatures from residents who agree with him that the town should not spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to build new sidewalks.
“Spending is out of control,” Chang, told Patch. “Money is being spent on meaningless and unnecessary projects.”
Selectman Rob Mallozzi, who for First Selectman on Feb. 28, said the discussion about sidewalks is getting in the way of a more pressing issue — paving Main St.
“It’s hard for me to believe sidewalks on Main Street are a problem in this town,” he said. “There are 2,000 cars that drive up and down Main St. There are not 2,000 people walking. To think we’re going to delay the paving of Main St. because of the idea of placing sidewalks thoughout the town is wrong. We have to fix Main St., which is a disgrace. We have a road that needs paving.”
First Selectman Jeb Walker said adding sidewalks to Main St. is part of “normal road maintenance,” and not part of the planning process being undertaken by the Long Range Planning Committee. At its meeting Tuesday night, the Board of Finance approved an appropriation of $175,000 for Phase 2 of the LRPC’s work. As First Selectman, Walker serves as Chair of the Board of Finance.
“The proposal for the sidewalks has nothing to do with long range planning,” he told Patch. “The whole notion has been around for years. The inserted itself. It’s their decision now.”
Walker said safety is paramount in the discussion about the sidewalks.
“If it were a side road there could be a great argument not to have one,” he said.
Walker said he had received a “raft of petition letters” from residents supporting the sidewalks. Opponents, he said, are a few Main St. residents.
“These three neighbors don’t want kids walking to school near them,” he said.
Fred Chang, who lives in New Canaan, but not on Main St., said he thinks the sidewalk issue is representative of a lack of transparency in town politics.
“My sense is there is a lack or absence of transparency and also a lack of effective governance,” he said. “I can’t have any confidence that they’re doing the right things the right way. I don’t want money to be spent on someone’s pet projects.”