P&Z Watch: Application Seeks to Keep “Temporary” Building in Horseneck Lot; Relocate Town Operations from Roger Sherman Baldwin Park

A new application has been submitted by the Town of Greenwich to the Planning & Zoning commission to remove a requirement to demolish a temporary building in Horseneck Lot that was built back in 2012.

The property at 1 Horseneck Lane is referred to in the application as the “Horseneck Fire Station.”

When it was constructed in 2012, it was intended to be temporary to house the Greenwich Fire Dept while their new building was under construction.

By further delaying or possibly removing the requirement to demolish the building, town operations in Roger Sherman Baldwin Park could be moved away from the waterfront, a step toward opening up access to the park and enhancing views

The application notes that Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo has made it a priority to redevelop Roger Sherman Baldwin Park and make it both more accessible to residents and take advantage of water views.

According to an application submitted to P&Z on April 16, by further delaying or possibly removing the requirement to demolish the Fire Station in Horseneck Lot, both the Small Engine Shop (apparatus garage) and the Marine Warehouse (dormitory building) can fit and operate from those existing buildings.

Specifically, the application proposes that the 1950’s Parks & Rec building and operations housed in it be removed from the site.

The ferry and the Marine Police operations would remain at their current locations.

The application, PLPZ202100159, was submitted with the idea of housing both the town Small Engine Shop and Marine Warehouse in the “temporary” building in Horseneck lot.

Back in 2011, the town had planned to assemble a modular building to temporarily house the Greenwich Fire Dept headquarters while a new fire station was built at the corner of Havemeyer and Mason, but ultimately the town determined conventional construction would be less expensive.

The building was then erected on the east side of Horseneck lot, across from the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich.

As part of the original approval, the temporary structure was to be removed within 6 months of the completion of the Central Fire Station, but its life has been extended.

Over the years, the building has been used for a variety of purposes.

In 2017, when Peter Tesei was First Selectman, the Greenwich International Film Festival approached the Town to assist in obtaining temporary space to house the festival organizational staff. GIFF received approval from the Planning & Zoning commission to relocate to the building. They stayed until 2019.

Currently the building is being used as the temporary home to the Byram Fire Station while their station on Delavan Ave is reconstructed. When the Town applied for the rehabilitation of the Byram Fire Station, an extension was granted to allow the Byram Fire Station personnel to use the building.

Today, the building is supposed to be removed 6 months after the completion of the Byram Fire Station.

At the April 8 Board of Selectmen meeting, there was a suggestion that Neighbor to Neighbor use the building for their food distribution operation since construction of their their new food pantry at Christ Church is delayed. (Neighbor to Neighbor’s lease at the Teen Center has been extended twice and that non-profit has plans for HVAC work and seeks to return to their mission of improving the lives of youth.)

At that meeting First Selectman Fred Camillo said the Byram Fire Station would be completed by the end of June or earlier.

At the close of that meeting, Camillo and Neighbor to Neighbor director Margaret Greenberg agreed to continue to search for a temporary location for the food distribution.

Toward that end, this new P&Z application has an additional request.

Per the narrative, the First Selectman is asking that Neighbor to Neighbor be allowed to occupy the building in Horseneck lot after the Byram Fire Station personnel leave “until the plan to relocate Parks & Recreation operations is funded.”

Operations in the 1950s era Town of Greenwich Parks & Rec Dept building would be moved to the temporary building in Horseneck Lot currently being used by Byram Fire Staiton personnel while their station is reconstructed.

Funds were provided in the FY 19/20 budget for a study that would develop the vision the First Selectman had for the park.

Recently the completed study was presented to the BET for consideration of additional funding, but the item was not funded in the FY21/22 budget.

Finding sites to relocate the Parks & Recreations maintenance operations from Roger Sherman Baldwin Park will be a major undertaking.

According to the application, there are three operations that would need to be relocated:

1. Bruce Park Grounds Maintenance – This operation maintains all the Central Business District Town landscaping obligations. It needs to be located as close as possible to the Central Business District to minimize employee travel time.

2. Marine Warehouse – The warehouse operation is to supply beach/park location with various supplies such as hand soap, toilet paper, hand towels, light bulbs, cleaning supplies, paint, etc. The primary user is the island operations; the warehouse location must be close ferry dock.

3. Parks & Rec Small Engine Shop – Responsible for the maintenance and repair of all landscaping and small snow removal equipment including lawnmowers, leaf blowers and trimmers & snow blowers.

The proposal would relocate the Bruce Park Grounds Maintenance to the “mosquito barn’ on Indian Field Road on the eastern side of Bruce Park. This site would require a new expanded building and funds to begin a 30% design was included as part of the FY 21/22 Budget.

The new application dovetails with an RFP the town issued a week ago for a mixed use development in the Island Beach Parking lot at 121 Arch Street.

While the new P&Z application has the goal of moving the Marine Warehouse or Parks & Rec Small Engine Shop away from the waterfront to open it up to views, a recently issued RFP for a mixed-use development in the Island Beach parking lot would take advantage of those views.

Town of Greenwich Issues RFP for Mixed-Use Development in Island Beach Parking Lot

April 12, 2021

Post It note at a POCD workshop in 2018 notes “Waterfront is Not Accessible.”

See also:

P&Z Watch: Bella Nonna Seeks Permanent Seasonal Outdoor Dining

P&Z Watch: Large Outdoor Ice Rink at Round Hill Rd Residence Gets Green Light