P&Z Watch: Expansion at Cos Cob Library for a Community Room Approved

The Planning & Zoning Commission approved a renovation and modest expansion of the Cos Cob Branch of the Greenwich Library at their Jan 9 meeting.

The library, which has not had improvements since it was built in 1999, will construct a, 1,120 square foot community room and reconfigure the parking.


View of library from across Suburban Ave.

Parking today 14 + 1 ADA. After expansion: 12 + 1 ADA 

The addition will be over an existing parking lot. The already non-conforming green space area will be further reduced –  from 23.4%  to 22.6%  where 50% is required – but that reflects the addition of walkways.

And while the library will eliminate two parking spaces by closing off a one-way exit lane from the current lot, they were able to add one parking space to the municipal lot between the library and the firehouse.

A study indicated there is more than adequate parking for all the existing uses.

Images: Peter Gisolfi Associates

Initially the library proposed a more modest 351 square-foot addition to the multipurpose room, as well as a trellis, patio and shed on the  east side of the library.

After surveying patrons, the library changed the plan to include a larger 1120 sq ft community room over the existing paved parking area (only 114 square feet of impervious surface will be added) and eliminating the trellis, patio and shed from the plan.

Neighbor Feedback

The commission discussed the possibility of accommodating users who arrive at the library by bike or with strollers.

Ms Alban noted back when people were talking about Plan B in Jan 2023, neighbors commented that rather than more parking for cars, they wanted more parking for strollers. She asked if that request was accommodated.

Mr. Heagney said there was a “plaza area,” that would provide a little more space for strollers.

Michael Tribe of Peter Gisolfi Associates noted that the renovation swapped the children’s space with the adult space, placing the children’s library on the east side of the building, increasing its size in the process. He said that in the front of that space there would be moveable furniture, that could make way for stroller parking.

He said a bike rack was included in the plans, but more racks could be added if necessary.

Ms Alban asked if the strollers would be secure there. Ms Alban noted parents had said they didn’t want to leave their strollers unattended.


Renderings, before and after addition. Peter Gisolfi Architects

In the wording of the approval, the commission included a request that the  applicant, in their long term planning, consider further enhancing accessibility for strollers to the library facilities.

“You have a walking neighborhood. Keep trying to make it walker-friendly,” Alban said. “That’s the goal. We heard from neighbors that they wanted it to be pedestrian and biker friendly.”

“We’ve also heard that these strollers are their lifeblood,” said commissioner Peter Lowe. “And what’s going to happen is they’re gong to ask if they can bring their strollers into this new room they created.”

Ms Alban said that in the long term the applicant could go to the Zoning Board of Appeals and request a variance to expand the FAR and footprint to accommodate stroller parking.

“If that’s what they want to do,” Alban said.

During public comment, Deb Armstrong from the library Friends committee shared the feedback received from many mothers.

“Everything they have for their children is in the stroller. They will not be separated from the strollers. We have an area outside now where they can park the strollers, but they do not want the strollers outside because – the diapers, the bottles, the this and that – everything they are doing gets packed on that stroller,” Armstrong said.

“One mother said a new stroller costs almost as much a a new car,” Armstrong added.

Mr. Heagney said the reconfiguration would allow for strollers to be brought into the building.

Ms Alban said nevertheless, in terms of long term planning, the commission would ask for further consideration of more pedestrian friendly uses. It was noted the library is already maxed out on FAR.

The vote was unanimous, with Margarita Alban, Nick Macri, Mary Jenkins (for Peter Levy), Arn Welles (for Peter Lowe), and Dennis Yeskey voting.

See also:

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