Town Council Discusses Additional Downtown Parking

The Long Range Planning Committee presented the Council with its Facilities Master Plan and also discussed Town Hall renovation.


As requested by the town of New Canaan in 2010, the Long Range Planning Committee completed and presented a Municipal and Public Use Facilities Master Plan with the aid of consultants Perkins Eastman and BFJ Planning.

The LRPC presented a slideshow to the at their Wednesday night meeting depicting the current conditions, issues and suggestions for town facilities based on data compiled over the last two years.

The LRPC split their work into two phases: Phase I focused on evaluating buildings, parking and pedestrian flow and gathering input from the public via public forums, Phase II focused on developing a Master Plan.

Some of the items of focus within the extensive, 130-page report include the state of , , and parking spaces.

LRPC Chairwoman Christine Wagner highlighted some of the issues at Town Hall.

“Under existing conditions, we now function in multiple locations. We ask residents to go to two different locations to go through one permit process. We’re asking our employees to travel to go to meetings, we’re asking them to travel to deliver sensitive material. There’s duplication of office services and maintenance at two locations. We need to maintain and service heating, electric, IT, and emergency generator services in two buildings,” said Wagner

The report identifies multiple other issues at Town Hall, which is one of the top priorities of the Master Plan.

The building is listed as an inefficient use of building space with an efficiency rate of 61 percent, yet departments such as , Land Use and have been moved out. The second floor and basement are not compliant with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), cooling and heating equipment dating back to the 1950s have exceeded their service life of 30 years, and the plumbing system does not meet ADA or International Plumbing Code requirements.

The report suggests that, should the town choose to house departments currently existing at separate locations (, , , and ) under the same roof at Town Hall, an additional 30,250 square feet would be required.

Town Hall either may either be renovated and expanded at a cost of $16 million or repaired and made code/accessibility compliant at a cost of $13 million (see pg. 107 of report for side-by-side comparison).

Wagner also discussed issues at Irwin House, where Planning and Zoning, Building, Inland Wetlands and Health Departments currently reside.

“The Chief Building Inspector called it a disaster,” said Wagner of Irwin House, which currently uses the main level and leaves the 2,400 square foot upper level unused.

The departments were meant to be moved into Irwin House temporarily after Town Hall was flooded in 2007, explained Wagner, and the space offers virtually no privacy as it is set up as a house and not a commercial building.

The town’s options for Irwin House, which is also not compliant with the ADA, are to expand [the Main House] by up to 15 percent of its current size, remove it, or replace it with a new structure of up to 115 percent of the existing structure’s size.

The report also addressed the issue of additional parking downtown, a common theme discussed by residents at public forums.

“There is at least a shortage of three hundred spaces,” said Wagner. The report details an examination of the impacts to vehicular and pedestrian circulation in the downtown, including intersections, parking capacity, demand and utilization, sidewalks, and pedestrian paths.

Analysis of Locust, Morse Court, Center School, Richmond Hill, Lumberyard, Railroad Station, Park Street/Playhouse/Town Hall, Telephone Company, and Talmadge Hill lots is extensively reviewed throughout the report. Public opinion that a parking deck would be undesirable was taken into consideration and respected. 

LRPC also suggested an additional 130 spaces at an expanded and 57 spaces at . Analysis of traffic flow shows that an additional 57 spaces at Irwin Park would result in a 1 to 2 percent change in traffic between Locust and Main Street (see pg. 28 of report for parking conditions).

Other issues discussed in the report include pedestrian safety, the state of the and Vine Cottage, senior housing, a bicycle path and extensive cost impact analysis. View the complete report attached or download the PDF (17.2 MB) on New Canaan’s official website.


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