As the election field becomes more crowded, I wanted to take the opportunity to start a dialogue about one of the important issues facing New Canaan: the stewardship of New Canaan’s physical plant.

Kit Devereaux, longtime New Canaanite and Democrat, is running for first selectman in 2017. Credit: Michael Dinan

For decades, New Canaan has failed to maintain its assets. And by ignoring routine maintenance, those issues, year-by-year, have and will become major projects, edging from the operating side of the budget over to the capital side.

I realize that we have a superintendent of buildings; that the town will start using a sophisticated computer program for facility management, that we have a committee charged with the evaluation and use of town buildings. Some will say that we need to wait until the Town Building Evaluation and Use Committee has finished its work.

I would counter that argument because, short of tearing a building down, routine maintenance is crucial, even if “sale” is the outcome. Consider that after all this time and study, the Teen Center still has post beetles, the Merrie Bee building in Kiwanis Park still needs a new roof, and the Vine Cottage hasn’t been painted in 18 years, and the list goes on.

Interestingly, many neighboring municipalities employ plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and other workmen to maintain their buildings. These employees perform regular maintenance on buildings before that maintenance turns into capital projects. There is a reasonable argument to outsource capital building projects, but certainly not maintenance.

I would like to see a cost-benefit assessment as to whether the investment that other towns have made in maintenance employees could make a difference to New Canaan’s over-burdened capital budget. Remember the adage: A stitch in time saves nine.

Kit Devereaux

Democratic candidate for first selectman

 

Original story here.

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