What’s going on in Greenwich: Decision on Chabad, Himes talk and safety town
The Planning and Zoning Commission will make its decision at a special time and date on a controversial proposal to build a synagogue and preschool on Mason Street.
The commission typically meets every other Tuesday, but due to the Presidents Day holiday, the meeting will be held at Thursday at the earlier start time of 6 p.m.
And members usually make decisions at the end of the meetings, but due to the large public interest in the proposal from Chabad Lubavitch of Greenwich will be made at the beginning.
The application from Chabad was listed first on the tentative agenda as of Friday.
Testimony on the application is closed, so no public comments will be accepted at Thursday’s meeting. The public is invited to attend.
The proposal calls for Chabad, which has a school at 75 Mason St., to use property at 226 and 230 Mason St. as well as at 16 Havemeyer Place to construct a 20,913-square-foot synagogue and preschool. The new structure would use 5,600 square feet of the existing Greenwich Armory, which is currently used as office space, and would share a parking garage with nearby tenants.
The project has drawn a lot of public scrutiny, with residents raising concerns about traffic and parking problems as well as the changes in the character of the area. When it last took testimony on the application in December, the commission focused on parking as its main area of concern.
However, representatives for Chabad said the preschool’s only traffic would be from parents and drop-off and pickup times. And during Saturday services, more parking would be available because the other companies sharing the garage would not be open.
Running shuttle services from the nearby Julian Curtiss School on the high holidays, when school would not be in session, was offered as a possibility.
The commission also seems ready to offer a decision on the proposal by Greenwich Academy to move its preschool and day-care program off campus to a nearby property it owns. That, too, has drawn neighborhood opposition due to traffic, parking and neighborhood character concerns. But the private school says it must move to program so it can modernize its campus in the residential area.
The commission members have expressed some reservations about the legality of moving the preschool and day-care program to what has been only a residential property.
U.S. Rep. Jim Himes will be making two public appearances in Greenwich this week.
A town resident, Himes will be the weekly speaker Wednesday, Feb. 20, at the meeting of the Retired Men’s Association of Greenwich. It will be his third speech before the RMA during his time in the House. The event will be at 11 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church at 1 W. Putnam Ave.
According to the RMA, Himes is slated to discuss the challenges facing the new Congress. He is a member of both the Financial Services Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The RMA said he will give an “informed perspective” on the ongoing investigative work into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Other topics — including health care, LGBTQ+ rights, presidential authority and immigration — are also likely to be discussed.
The event is free and open to all, not just for RMA members. A question-and-answer session typically follows the speeches, which usually last about an hour. RMA speeches are usually recorded and posted online at www.greenwichrma.org.
Himes last appeared before the RMA in February 2017, right after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, of whom Himes has been a loud and frequent critic. Since then, the Democrats have taken back control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 2010, and Himes will be speaking from a majority perspective.
Also week, Hithis mes will speak at an Indivisible Greenwich event at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, at Eastern Middle School, 51 Hendrie Ave., Riverside. The event is co-hosted by Indivisible Stamford.
The public is invited to attend, Indivisible Greenwich’s co-founders Joanna Swomley and Nerlyn Pierson said. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. so the public can meet and talk with members of Indivisible.
“Our group is particularly looking forward to hearing from Representative Himes and learning about the changes in the house since the 2018 mid-terms,” Swomley said in a statement. “We are anxious to hear about the new legislative agenda, including HR-1, the pro-democracy bill, as well as efforts to act as a check on this president’s power.”
HR-1 was the first proposed bill of the new Congress and calls for increased early voting, making it easier for people to vote in the country and other reforms like Internet registration and automatic voter registration.
Indivisible Greenwich, like other Indivisible chapters in the country, was formed after Trump’s election in 2016. The group has been a vocal critic of Trump on issues such as presidential power and health care.
Registration is open for the annual American Red Cross Safety Town held in June in Old Greenwich.
The program, designed by the Red Cross, is a comprehensive, one-week safety education program that teaches awareness and accident prevention skills. It is aimed at kids who will enter kindergarten in the fall.
“Children learn from experts through fun and interactive activities,” the Red Cross said in a statement.
As part of Safety Town, kids will learn lessons from teachers as well as members of the Greenwich Police Department, Greenwich Fire Department and Greenwich Emergency Medical Services.
The kids will also get a chance to tour an ambulance, a fire truck and a school bus.
Safety Town will take place both indoors in a classroom as well as outside in a specially designed layout for “Safety Town,” with mock buildings and traffic signals so kids can learn about sidewalks, crosswalks and safe pedestrian habits. The youngsters walk and use pedal cars as they travel through safety town. Each child will receive a fitted bike helmet, which they can keep once the week of classes is over.
The lessons are reinforced by follow-up materials such as handouts and reference materials, which kids can take home to share with parents and caregivers.
At the end of the week, each young participant receives a Safety Town diploma.
The sessions will take place at the Eastern Greenwich Civic Center in Old Greenwich at 90 Harding Road from June 3 to June 7 and from June 10 to June 14. There are two sessions: 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 to 3 p.m.
Applications can be filled out at https://rdcrss.org/2tnRyzH. More information can be found at https://rdcrss.org/2Ipdc14.