Below is the Keith E Simpson Associates Inc of New Canaan "Saving 1913" Library Plan.

It indicates the original 1913 building with the 1936 addition.   As shown, there is approximately 100 feet between between the new and original library building.  That's more than three times the current setback requirements in New Canaan. 

Here is Keith Simpson's description of his site plan recommendation:


  • It saves the entire 1913 portion of the library plus the later gallery, in its exact current
    location, resulting in a 3,600 sq. ft. building which, when restored, will have great
    flexibility and widespread potential for future uses.
  • With responsible reconstruction involving a south wall rebuilt to replicate the original, and a west wall rebuilt in stone to match the adjacent north and south walls, and with an on-grade handicap accessible entrance on the west side, and with up-to-code new restrooms, heating and air conditioning this building, with reasonable maintenance, can last another one hundred years.
  • My plan shows the addition of an open porch on the west side which will protect the handicap accessible building entrance from snow, rain and the weather elements, but also being 20’ X 20’, will be a place for anyone to sit and read, have a sandwich, meet with others in the shade, during the summer, and with protection from the rain at other times.
  • On either side of the open porch, there will be two attractive 20’ X 20’, paved, fully handicap-accessible, terrace areas, each a destination in themselves, for expanded use of that area as a stage for concert, theater and many other possible uses.
  • Beyond, and west of the porch and terraces, will be a large lawn area, which will be inviting because it will be well drained, and level and therefore easy to use for setting up seating and general use for a wide range of activities. Full management of roof storm water from the main library building achieved underground, below the west lawn using Cul-Tec or equivalent structures.
  • There will be convenient handicap vehicular access to both the new library building and 1913 building by the extension of the service entrance driveway to the new library, as far as the south side of the 1913 building. The additional driveway will be limited, by signage, to handicap vehicles only during the hours when the buildings are open to the public. That driveway can be used for other service vehicle access only, indicated by signage, before the opening hours of either building.
  • The additional driveway pavement and new walkways can all be Flexipave, or equivalent surface, which is both durable for vehicular use, as well as very attractive, but also fully porous.
  • The walls along Cherry Street and Main Street will remain in their present locations and intact as will the 100-year old familiar views from both those street.
  • Landscaping of the area will be greatly simplified. It will be pollinator pathwayresponsive, where possible, and very inexpensive to install and easy to maintain.

Here is the New Canaan Library proposed "Town Green."

and Keith Simpson's Critique:

The” TOWN GREEN” is an amorphous area of lawn, not 3/ 4 of an acre as the library administration has repeatedly been claiming, but, in fact, it is only less than 1/3 of an acre in size.  It is not remotely big enough, nor is it well-suited to the multitude of grand events that the library administration has been predicting will be held there.

On the NORTH SIDE of the “Town Green,” almost one quarter of what looks like grass in the architectural illustrations, is a swampy detention basin fed by a 12 inch pipe, just 8 feet from the edge of  the “Town Green,” bringing large quantities of roof drainage water right to the “Town Green” area.  This regularly flooding area, complete with standing water and plants like Tussock Sedge, with its wetland cousins, was described by the architect as a “landscape feature”, but it is a feature which belongs, more appropriately, in the outer reaches of the Nature Center’s wetlands. Representing it as being part of the Town Green and implying that it is useable lawn is highly misleading and irresponsible. It would be a man-made wetland and with its standing water, it will become prime territory for frogs and West Nile Virus mosquitoes and become an attractive nuisance and end up being required to be fenced off. See the September 23, 2019 memorandum from the New Canaan Department of Health regarding West Nile Virus.

Also, on the north side of the “Town Green” along Routes 124 and 106, a high maintenance, undesirable, and hugely expensive, new sitting area is being proposed. No one will want to sit there looking at backed-up traffic at the Cherry Street and Main Street light. The town will end up maintaining it for a while and then, in all probability, tearing it out.

On its WEST SIDE, there is a fully landscaped area, so dense that it precludes even a decent-sized lawn mower from being driven onto the big lawn from the nearby library service area, let alone a vehicle to put up a tent or drop off seating for a concert or a stage.

On its EAST SIDE, along Main Street, there is a new, even larger, landscaped area, described by the architects as a future “Wildlife Area”. It seems that this has been deliberately positioned, on top of the footprint of the 1913 building, and its front lawn areas. This area will rapidly become overgrown and unkempt in a prime, historic location right on Main Street. It is proposed solely for the purpose of taking the 1913 building “out of the view” of the new library building as the chairman of the library trustees has described it. There are so many trees and shrubs planned for the area that, when they are in leaf, even the new library building itself will barely be visible from Main Street. That area will turn into a much greater “eyesore” than the 1913 building, which the library chairman claims 1913 is today.

On its SOUTH SIDE, the easy flow of people moving between the new library building, and its new “Green” is heavily, and unnecessarily, encumbered by a 60’ long wall and yet another mosquito-breeding swamp type detention area right next to the new library itself.

The actual LAWN AREA  is sloping down towards its swampy detention basin, and it is configured in such a manner, both vertically and horizontally, that it is unsuitable for the many “staged events” suggested for it. As currently designed, there is no vehicular access route onto the “Town Green” from anywhere. Three oaks which would develop into extremely large trees are proposed for the lawn area and they would further hinder its use for events. It has repeatedly been characterized as a destination for the “Summer Theater”. It is completely unsuitable for that, for numerous reasons.

In summary, all along, the “Town Green” concept has long been glamorized, and over-marketed, as a desirable alternative to the 1913 building. In fact, it turns out to be a contorted plan specifically fabricated for the purpose of justifying removal of 1913 from its present location. It is dysfunctional, much smaller than described, inaccessible, with unhealthy, above ground, storm water detention systems, with standing water, right in the center of town, and within a few feet of a proposed “Town Green” and the new library building itself. Such site planning is the height of irresponsibility.