The following is a letter from a member of the New Canaan group Citizens to Preserve our Village Character.
How many of you remember the Avalon-Lumberyard Parking Lot controversy from the 1990s? Remember the vitriol of residents pitted against one another over high-density housing on Elm Street by the railroad station?
After years of litigation and legal fees, a solution was found that benefitted the Town of New Canaan and Avalon Properties. In a September 1999 referendum, residents voted overwhelmingly in a 2-to-1 margin to uphold a compromise deal to swap the town-owned, Department of Works land along Millport Pond and Lakeview Avenue for the Avalon-owned Lumberyard Lot. New Canaan residents said no to Avalons construction of an apartment complex by the railroad station. Commuters had their parking lot. Worries of traffic congestion were assuaged. Avalon built their apartment complex on the east side of town. Perhaps most importantly, New Canaan preserved its small New England town character. Case closed ... or maybe not.
Once again, the Lumberyard parking lot is the target for possible housing construction. This threatens to be as divisive to New Canaan residents today as the Avalon fiasco was over a decade ago. However, it is not a private developer that is putting this in motion. It is our own town officials who submitted to the state a Transit-Oriented Development grant proposal to study the parking lot as ostensibly a mixed-use site for senior housing, private medical facility and tiered parking. Why are they risking opening up old wounds over a matter that voters settled over a decade ago?
Citizens to Preserve our Village Character (CPVC) observed that Town Council and Board of Selectmen meetings dealing with this issue occurred during the height of the summer with little publicity, resulting in minimal public input. Therefore, CPVC members have arranged with Town Planner Steve Kleppin for an informative meeting to raise public awareness in Town Hall Auditorium on Aug. 31 at 7 p.m.
Any questions or comments, please email CPVC at LumberYardParking@yahoo.com . CPVC looks forward to seeing you on Aug. 31.
How concerned are you about what might happen with the Lumberyard parking lot? Let us know by leaving a comment below or on our Facebook page. The Daily New Canaan welcomes the opinions of its readers. Send them to Melvin Mason at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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