Despite plans for the demolition of the Old Town Hall Homes to begin in early January, it has still not happened yet.
“The demolition permit was issued last night,” said Darien Housing Authority Chairman Joe Warren in a phone conversation to The Darien Times on Thursday, Feb. 21. “All the paperwork has been done. We were just waiting for the timing so that all the finances were in the right place and everything is ready to go.”
Warren said he expects demolition of the senior affordable housing complex, at 719 Post Road, to begin next week.
However, there are two issues that need to be addressed before this occurs, according to Warren.
The first is that the ambulance, which is stationed in the parking lot of the Old Town Hall Homes, needs to be able to leave whenever there is an emergency.
“The paramedic is stationed at 701 Post Road, which is a small antique house that the town owns,” Warren said. “We have to figure out what to do with the ambulance during demolition.”
“We can’t run into a situation if that ambulance is needed and they can’t get out of the parking lot,” Warren said. “That is unacceptable.”
There has to always be an open route for the ambulance to leave the parking lot through the Post Road and Academy Street, according to Warren.
Another option is to relocate the ambulance during the construction period.
“We are pursing both of those opportunities,” Warren said. “By next week, we need to come to a resolution before we start demolition.”
The next meeting of the Housing Authority is Tuesday, Feb. 26, and this issue is expected to be addressed at that time.
A second issue that needs to be resolved before demolition can begin, according to Warren, is the movement of the war monument and flagpole that’s currently in front of the development.
“We will move it to the Spring Grove Cemetery,” Warren said. “We have people lined up to do it. We will move it with some of the equipment that’s on-site. We will use a private hauler that’s offered to do it for us.”
Warren added that the names on the monument are all represented on at least one of the other monuments in town.
“There isn’t anything about this monument that is unique,” Warren said.
Fire drills
For the past week, the buildings of the Old Town Hall Homes have been used by all three fire departments in town, both individually and as a group exercise, for drill purposes.
“[The current site] gives us an opportunity to go into an unknown space and practice things, like foreseeable entry, searching for victims and ventilation,” Warren said.
The Darien Housing Authority (DHA) owns and operates the Old Town Hall Homes. The current complex of six buildings and 30 apartments will be demolished and replaced with a new stand-alone building with 55 units.
Expected construction of the project will take about 18 months.
“We are moving along, we are making progress,” Warren said.