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East Street property study marks ‘thoughtful leadership’

December 19, 2018

I am writing to respond to errors and mischaracterizations in a Letter to the Editor about New Milford leadership published Dec. 7.

Aside from arguing the definitions of inflammatory nouns and correcting the English, there were some substantial statements which were at best over generalizations or at worst outright misstatements.

The $20,000 grant is exactly that — a grant. This is not New Milford town tax dollars and it is funding a study that differs in scope from those previously completed. And it will directly address the value of the East Street building to the town for various uses.

The statement that the previous studies made it clear that it “is not a viable option” as a town building could not be further from the truth. The KG+D report from 2017 details the work required for a number of different scenarios and clearly lays out a plan and the costs to continue to utilize this building. Further, it contains a roofing study which concluded that while some areas should be replaced as soon as possible, the largest section of the roof could easily be maintained for at least another 10 years. (Page 2 of “Roofing Report” by Watasky Associates, Inc.)

Finally, while there was an offer to buy the building the town has no idea if the price offered is anywhere near what the market would dictate. And this option does not address the concerns from CT Trust for Historic Preservation expressed in their letter from March, 2017. The concerns included the “major artworks” contained in the building dating from 1936, “a monumental stained-glass window” and a “continuous series of frieze murals.” This letter cited the possible sale, but questioned this option due to location and the town’s ability to obtain some state and/or federal funding to address deferred maintenance.

All of these were considered by the Facilities Utilization Committee, of which I was a member, and which recently completed its work and cited these same issues.

The continued study of how to best utilize the East Street property to the benefit of the Town of New Milford is thoughtful leadership.

Gary A. Hida

New Milford

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