Welcome to New Canaan Referendum!
If you've ever walked, hiked, or run through these woods, you know what a special place this is. Thanks to those who voted "no" on March 15th, New Canaanites of all ages can now continue to enjoy this unique, high-profile public woodland.
On Friday March 15, 2002, by a vote of 2,097 to 1,712, New Canaanites rejected the $1.679 million appropriation to build an office for the school administration at "Site 1" near the corner of Farm Road and South Avenue.
We'd like to thank everyone who supported New Canaan Referendum through their work, contributions, and passion for this issue, and we also thank everyone who voted-both "yes" and "no"-since your participation demonstrates your clear commitment to democracy and to New Canaan's future.
The building committee should also be commended for the work they put into this project, but, as the referendum results suggest, the voters did not agree with its proposal.
People voted "no" for a variety of common-sense reasons, including desire to use the vacant space we have before developing more town land; concern about the scope and cost of the project; and desire to have a more participatory decision-making process.
We hope our officials take this opportunity to engage in a more open and sincere dialogue with the community and to consider multiple points of view on key issues of importance to New Canaanites. In this case, both the building committee and town hall knew long ago that there was significant townwide opposition to Site 1. Perhaps if they had embraced community input on the front end of this project, we wouldn't have had to go to referendum on the back end.
What Happens Next
After being in dispute for the past year, Site 1 (and, realistically, Site 2) are now off the table, but the task of finding adequate office space for our school administrators is still with us. Since the referendum, we've spoken with a lot of New Canaanites about what happens next. Obviously, the whole town is going to be watching to see what's said and done, and we trust that our town officials will honor and respect the will of the people they represent. We think these steps should be clear:
1) Take Site 1 (and Site 2) off the table.
2) Create a new building committee that represents a broader base of perspectives, including members who will not consider public woodlands or playing fields as building sites.
3) Go back to the conceptual drawing board to re-examine existing alternatives and develop new ones as well. There are opportunities now that weren't available to us before the referendum. Maybe the idea of including district office space within the high school project can be honestly examined. Maybe the idea of using town-owned vacant space in the police station can be looked at more realistically. Armed with a much clearer sense of the public will, we can now focus on the best and most appropriate solution.
Now is the time to come together and find adequate space for our school administrators while protecting our public woodlands, parks and playing fields and minimizing taxpayer burden.
If you have ideas, thoughts or solutions on this issue, please let us know!
Again, thank you!