Background to Customize Your Letter
Important to note is that Planning & Zoning passed the Plan of Conservation and Development in 2014. It’s a document required to be updated and submitted to the state every 10 years. You can find this document on the town website. It helps to protect buildings like the 1913.
More importantly, in 2010, Planning & Zoning passed the Village District Design Guidelines. The 1913 Library sits in the Village District. The Village District Design Guidelines protects buildings like the 1913 Library, regardless of who owns them. You can find this document on the town website. It gets very detailed, like what materials are encouraged, brick is listed, and what materials are discouraged, glass is listed!
There’s been a lot of misinformation repeated about the 1913 Library. Don’t forget, there’s an actual building sitting there that can be measured and inspected, so the misinformation is shocking.
The New Canaan Library administration has finally agreed that the 1913 Library Building includes the original two rectangles (1) 66x22 (1) 60x24 totaling 2,892 square feet and the gallery addition of 31x24 totaling 744 square feet, for a grand total of 3,636 square feet. To put that into context, that’s a medium size house in New Canaan.
The 1913 building assessment report, completed by a team that included award winning preservation architects, stated that the building from foundation to roof was in good condition. Beyond expectation.
Work to Repurpose the Building:
We will be adding two unisex toilets and new heating and air conditioning systems. Put that into context of a medium size house
We will also be rebuilding the west wall as required and adding a 24 foot possibly glass exterior wall on the south side. Again put that into the context of a medium sized house.
Think of a medium size house in New Canaan, where two new bathrooms, a new boiler in the basement and a new air-conditioning system will be added, as well as the replacement an 24 foot single story exterior wall, and partial exterior wall, both potentially glass. We have an itemized budget of $828,000.
Moving the Building:
There has been a lot of discussion about the possibility of moving the 1913 building across Maple Street to the Center School Parking Lot. Moving the building will eliminate its historic value. It will no longer be eligible to be listed as an historic building in the State of Connecticut, and it will no longer be eligible for state preservation grants towards its repurposing. It will also be a logistical nightmare: when the new library is completed in about two years, the existing additions which will be in continuous use during construction, will be demolished. But the new building will now be in place blocking a straight path across Maple Street. So the 1913 will most likely have to have the roof removed in order to come down to Main Street and fit below the very low telephone wires. A new foundation will have to be prepared so that after the structure is rolled down Main St, it can be hoisted back up onto the new foundation. Then the roof can be rebuilt as well as the repair of any additional harm the move may have created. The library’s construction manager is working on a cost estimate for this move, our estimates put it close to $2 million. Basically turning a less than $1 million project into a $3 million project. It would be fiscally irresponsible and remove the ability to have the 1913 Library listed as an historic building with the state.
Is there asbestos:
The New Canaan Library asbestos report is for the demolition of the entire existing library building, and very little seems to be in the 1913 building. Asbestos that is encased is not the issue, exposing and disturbing it is, like during demolition.
The two unisex bathrooms will be ADA compliant. We will be cutting a pathway from the Cherry St sidewalk that will allow for a very gracious slope to an outdoor terrace and ADA accessible entry as part of the west wall reconstruction. Again, think of adding a walkway from the driveway to a medium sized house.
Please consider these facts when writing your letter and join the P&Z regular meeting on the New Canaan Library via zoom on May 25th at 7:00pm. Check the town website for zoom details.
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I am writing to express my opposition to the relocation or demolition of the 1913 building and its gallery.
Our Planning & Zoning Commission should continue to follow the thoughtful Plan of Conservation and Development and Village District Design Guidelines to preserve this historic landmark in situ.
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