Susan Halpern Saving history in the South End
The South End of Stamford has been on The National Registry of Historic Places since 1986.
Most people don’t know that but what’s worse is our government officials don’t find that fact important enough to help save our neighborhood.
There are homes in the South End that are more than 100 years old. Many are homesteads to our earliest families who helped make Stamford what it is today.
My grandparents worked at Yale & Towne and most people in Stamford can say that they knew someone who worked at Pitney Bowes, two of the largest companies in the city at one time.
This was and still is a neighborhood. Yes, there was Northeast Utilities and B&S Carting, but we were a community that looked out for each other.
BLT (Building and Land Technology) now owns about 75 percent of the South End and has built several apartment buildings, the current towers on Dyke Lane on the waterfront of the South End, are planned to have four massive 20-plus story buildings that lack any architectural style and come right to the corner of Washington Boulevard and Dyke Lane. They tower over the homes on Harbor and Manor Streets blocking most of their sunlight. We will no longer realize that one of our greatest assets, Long Island Sound is there, right on the other side.
Now BLT wants to build 22-story towers on the B&S carting site on Pacific Street and Walter Wheeler Drive. These buildings will loom over the only few historic homes left, as well as the Nathan Wilder Community Center and churches on Pacific. There has been little effort to blend into the community, just one high rise after another.
The identity of our neighborhood is disappearing as well as the history of Stamford.
The South End Neighborhood study that was completed earlier this year and paid for by the City of Stamford recommends saving all buildings still standing in this historic neighborhood and any new development be organized and integrated into historic low rise buildings without towering over longtime residents’ homes, churches and community centers.
My hopes are that the Planning and Zoning boards take heed to this study and do the right thing for our city and for the memory of our ancestors.
Susan Halpern is vice president of the Stamford NRZ (Neighborhood Revitalization Zone).