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Town Council Approves Main Street Sidewalks

West side of the street is deemed the "safest" and "most logical" choice.

The Town Council voted eight to two at its meeting Monday night to support the construction of

The council actually had three options before it concerning this issue, which has been before them in one form or another since 2008, as noted by vice chair Stephen Karl, and was the . Those options were whether or not to support the inclusion of the new sidewalks as part of the town's bonded road repair, and if so, whether those sidewalks should be installed on the west or east side of Main Street.

Tiger Mann, Assistant Director of Public Works, presented the bids submitted by contractors. As requested previously by the council, those bids included costs for both a west and east side option.

When changes in the final design indicated that the east side option would not be more cost effective, the west side option prevailed with the council.

Audience members who spoke in support of sidewalks stressed issues of safety. Supporters of the west side option said it would be a natural extension of existing sidewalks, "Where's the most logical place? I believe it's the west side," said Marc Magliacano.

Those opposing new sidewalks on either side of the street said they saw this as a need, not a want. The opponents concerns were financial and for some, more personal. Karen Mackle of Woodland Road, said she foresaw the risk of property devaluation.

Echoing the comments of other board members voting in support, Kit Devereaux said she had vacillated on where they should go. "If price had been a significant difference, I would have been an east side person," she said. But given what she said was the safety, utility and logic of the alternative, she voted for the west side option.

Speaking in dissent, member Paul Foley said, "My concerns are still financial concerns." Citing the incremental cost of the new sidewalks, which is estimated to be approximately $285,000 to $352,000 based on the three lowest bidders, he said, "I'm concerned about 20,000 people versus a few hundred people." 

The Board of Selectmen will make the decision on awarding the project, which Mann said he expects will could begin in mid-March of next year and be completed by June.

J Bauer October 20, 2011 at 01:34 PM
Paul Foley is the only sensible person in the bunch. Blowing 300k (which will turn into 500k, I'm sure) on a project like this is nothing but stupid. The members of the town council that voted for this are emblematic of the problems we have in this town, this state and this country. We just cant seem to stop spending other people's money. <golf clap> nice job everyone. I look forward to one day firing all 8 of you who voted in favor of such a wasteful proposal. Paul, once again, thanks for being the voice of reason.
J Bauer October 20, 2011 at 01:36 PM
PS - I would like sidewalks on Oenoke Ridge Road, can we do that too? Cmon guys, it will only cost 700 or 800k. If I say "pretty please" would that help?
S Tadik October 20, 2011 at 03:10 PM
SARCASM UNWANTED Mr. Magliacano greatly negates the logic of his positions, the intelligence which he possesses and even the positive parts of his message with a style so repulsive that he turns off many who might be supportive of his opinions. The town government and the media have called for civil discourse. Town Council and the public in general may prefer not to hear sarcastic comments aimed at those who hold positions opposite to his, even if they agree with him in principle.
Jon S. October 20, 2011 at 03:12 PM
Once again, an 8-2 vote by the supposedly representative Town Council does not even come close to representing, for example, the recorded public opinion on this divisive project. If you recall, the referendum vote last spring was much closer, 54-46, not 80-20. [And who knows if that would have been the result at all if the current Town Council Chairman hadn't concealed the costly Lakeview Avenue Bridge arbitration hit from all of New Canaan's taxpayers and voters for months, only revealing the huge cost AFTER the referendum?] The way I see it, 26% of New Canaan voters (46% actual vote vs. 20% Town Council vote) have just been told their opinion doesn't count.
Westin Lovy October 20, 2011 at 03:18 PM
This project is the long overdue closing of a gap in the network of town sidewalks. The completion of sidewalks in high density areas, explicitly including Lower Main Street, has been in the Town's various development plans since 1953. If not now --when its cheapest as we're repaving the road -- then when? There is a sidewalk on Oenoke Ridge, leading from St. Mark's all the way into town and joining Main Street. Maybe you should get out of your car and discover it. Bids on the project came in below estimates. Finally spending some money on infrastructure in this neighborhood is not a bad thing. Many will benefit from this wise, long term investment. Don't be so selfish. Opposing all government spending, especially on obviously beneficial and cost effective projects, is not good government; it is merely irresponsible and unrealistic political theatre. Mr. Foley has the luxury of always being in the minority. Heckling is more fun than governing, and makes better sound bites. He doesn't have to govern with the negative consequences of his positions.
NCFamily October 20, 2011 at 03:26 PM
On March 9, 2011 Tiger Mann stated in New Canaan Patch that the sidewalk estimate is $400,200 for east and $393,530 for west including the 15% contingency fee. At last night's TC meeting, the lowest bidder was A+J Construction with a bid for $935,000 for the west and $930,000 for the east. Is Old Norwalk Road (which is slated to have sidewalks, too) included in this amount? Cha-ching! John Emert and Paul Foley are the voices of reason on TC.
Jane Preziosi October 20, 2011 at 03:52 PM
NCFamily, Thank you for your comment. The estimates you refer to from Mar. 9 were for the new sidewalks under consideration. The three low bids for that portion of the program only, which were presented last night, were estimated at $285,000 to $352,000 for the west side, which is the option the TC supported with their vote. The figures you state from last night's meeting include additional sidewalk repair and road repaving.
MFL October 20, 2011 at 03:54 PM
Those are the quotes for the ENTIRE paving project of Main, including road paving, replacement of existing sidewalks, and new sidewalks from Oak to Farm Road. The new sidewalks will be substantially less than $400,000 (a couple bids were less than $300,000). There were several slides last night with the numbers broken down that you can get from Public Works if you are interested in having the facts. They will also be referenced in the minutes of last night's meeting.
Elmcrest October 20, 2011 at 04:02 PM
Why are we replacing EXISTING sidewalks?
J Bauer October 20, 2011 at 04:12 PM
Mr Lovy, in your response to my comments, you asked if not now, "then when?" Well, we are in a down economy so many things are cheaper. Simply because a bad idea now costs less money than it used to does not change the fact that it is still a bad idea. So, the simple asnwer to your question If not now, when? is never.
Westin Lovy October 20, 2011 at 04:20 PM
Some facts: The cost of the sidewalk is coming in lower than estimated last spring. We should all be pleased with that. The cost of debt service on a marginal $500k of bond service is still about $5 per million of property value per year. Elmcrest, you are simply wrong on this issue. What you think is snide is merely your own discomfort confronting the positions you have taken. If you find the courage to discuss this non-anonymously, I'll still give you that cup of coffee.
Roy A. Abramowitz October 20, 2011 at 04:29 PM
Let us clear up one issue. Paul Foley has served the New Canaan community admirably for decades. His insight and financial savvy will be irreplacable on TC. It should be noticable that those members of TC with Financial Industry and Economic savvy, both Republican and Democratic voted no "at this time". In this economy, with a predicted negative GDP in the curent quarter and Qtr 1 of 2012, a rise in jobless claims today, a rise in underemployment percentages with renewed bank foreclosures hitting the housing market, a prediction that housing prices will decline another 5 - 7% causing a triple dip, I ask again where will the revenue come from to pay for all this projected spending in New Canaan? There are foreclosures increasing in New Canaan. The town rejects widow pension parity to our Police Department but will spend funds on sidewalks "for the few" paid for by "the many". I again I remind you look at Japan, a country that borrowed at zero interest rates increasing their soverign debt. The result a crashing economy. It is not only cost, it is the debt burden created and how it will be paid back. Paul Foley and John Emert get it, they should be thanked Mr. Lovy! You owe Paul Foley an apology. The problem here is that we have an "APPOINTED" Board of Finance contolled by the TC who ok the appointments,unlike most towns that have an "ELECTED" Board of Finance who answer to their constituents on election day. I put my money on Paul Foley and John Emert for the Board of Finance.
JL October 20, 2011 at 04:46 PM
I second Mr. Abramowitz's comments. Paul Foley has served our town selflessly and tiredlessly. I'm all for the sidewalk. But not if we have to borrow money for it right now. Now is not the time. The economy is getting worse, not better. Finances in this state are getting worse, not better. If the neighbors that live on Main Street want the sidewalk so badly, let them raise the funds privately. This worked for the Y, the fields, and other projects around town. No reason to increase the debt burden on the whole town right now. We should be looking at reducing our debt, not increasing it.
Elmcrest October 20, 2011 at 05:03 PM
@ Mr. Lovy, I'll have to disagree with you. I have no "discomfort" at all on any position I've taken about the sidewalk you and Mary want us all to pay for in front of your home. I didn't think it was a good idea last spring, and I still don't think it's a good use of limited taxpayer money, no matter how cheaply you feel it comes. I have no "discomfort" at all. Well, wait, I do have some, over these two issues: (1) Dr. DeWaele should've let taxpayers know about the Lakeview Avenue Bridge $$$ as soon as he was aware of it, and not keep it a hush-hush secret until after the referendum, and (2) your arrogant and dismissive attack on Paul Foley really deserves an apology from you. If you're buying cups of coffee, go treat him.
CW October 20, 2011 at 05:22 PM
I am very glad that the Town Council has finally approved the plan for the S. Main St sidewalk. I live on Woodland Road and am looking forward to walking with my family up to town on weekends and holidays. As evidenced by the foot traffic along South Av, many, many residents love to get out and walk, and come next May, they will have an additional option. This is an improvement that will be used by many, and will lead to an increase, not a decrease in property values along its route.
J Bauer October 20, 2011 at 07:28 PM
You know, last time I looked at the budget, we were projecting something around a 6% deficit (someone please correct me if I am not recalling properly). The economy is bad, and times are tougher for everyone, even wall streeters and lawyers. Our downtown is emptying out a little more every few months and the economy is not looking to materially turn around anytime soon, Rational people will cut their spending, pay down some more debt, increase savings maybe in times such as these and in fact most people we all know are doing just that. Yet, here is town government, forging ahead with deficits as usual. Does everyone understand that we cannot run deficits in perpetuity? At some point debt paydown is required. Every $5 or $100 that homeowners in our town pay for some pet project is money that could have went to reducing our deficit or actually cutting the millions in debt that we already have! I guess that everything seems to be affordable when nobody is paying for it!
chris October 20, 2011 at 08:15 PM
Hurry up already! I cant wait to go jogging on Main St!
Jon S. October 20, 2011 at 08:46 PM
RE: the Patch reader who claims Paul Foley "has the luxury of always being in the minority." You must be joking. Last summer, Paul seemed like the "minority," the only Republican of 8 on the Town Council to support Rob Mallozzi's candidacy for First Selectman -- since the other 7 were out there campaigning for Mr. Mallozzi's opponent. But when 2,220 real voters finally got to weigh in, they agreed with Mr. Foley, and supported Rob Mallozzi by a fairly hefty margin, with Rob earning nearly 60% of the vote. It wasn't the first time the Town Council "majority" was out of step with the real people they're supposed to represent. Yesterday's 80-20 "group-think" vote simply doesn't reflect the many real and sound reasons this issue has been so divisive. Thank you, Paul Foley... you're no heckler, you're a true public servant.
David Kostek October 20, 2011 at 11:42 PM
While I support the sidewalk project and am glad to see it pass, I would like to just mention that the other "No" vote came from John Emert who is up for election on November 8th.
S Tadik October 21, 2011 at 02:47 AM
SARCASM UNWANTED Mr. Magliacano greatly negates the logic of his positions, the intelligence which he possesses and even the positive parts of his message with a style so repulsive that he turns off many who might be supportive of his opinions. The town government and the media have called for civil discourse. Town Council and the public in general may prefer not to hear sarcastic comments aimed at those who hold positions opposite to his, even if they agree with him in principle.
Elmcrest October 21, 2011 at 03:22 AM
Mr. Lovy's comments, earlier in this thread, are off-base. He campaigned vigorously for a new sidewalk to be built in front of his own home, yet calls those who oppose such non-mission-critical spending "selfish." His snide attitude ("maybe you should get out of your car and discover it") is not productive or helpful. His belief that New Canaanites who oppose spending money on a non-vital sidewalk therefore oppose "all government spending" is not based on fact. And his belief that Paul Foley is "heckling" rather than actually doing his job of representing New Canaan voters is inaccurate.
S Tadik October 21, 2011 at 03:56 AM
Jon S. Your comment is very interesting. In fact, if 46% of the electorate thought paving roads was more important than new sidewalks on Main St. and Old Norwalk Rd., then the probability of only 2 Members of Town Council voting as did Mr. Emert and Mr. Foley in Wednesday night is less than 10%. Ergo, Town Council is not representative of the electorate. Fortunately, voters can remedy this situation by NOT VOTING for Council Members who voted for these nice-to’s in a difficult economy.
C. Hutchins October 21, 2011 at 01:35 PM
I think the first sentence of the sixth paragraph has it backwards, where it says, "Those opposing new sidewalks on either side of the street said they saw this as a need, not a want." That doesn't make sense. My understanding is that those opposed to extending the sidewalks down Main Street see it as a "want," not a "need."
Jon S. October 24, 2011 at 05:11 PM
Agree. It's an obvious mistake, yet it's still there, so I guess Patch, without Sheryl Shaker editing, has no desire or ability to make corrections.

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