Letter to the editor: Don’t raze Wolfe Avenue property until new plan is in place

Dear Sue Cable, Mike Krenesky, and Dominick Sorrentino

I understand the property on Wolfe Avenue that was purchased by the town for public use a few years ago is under discussion, and I would like to share my thoughts. I’ve seen various proposals listed in the newspaper that are in the 3 – 4 million range for restoring and expanding the house and / or demolishing the house and rebuilding on the land.

I have several concerns. The first one being that when I voted on the proposal, the vision of a library or community center that utilized the historic building and it’s charm, was what I was envisioning, and remember this being put forth as a viable possibility. It is disappointing to learn that may be off the table and I would ask you to take pause and reconsider. At the very least, please do not forge ahead and demolish the house without a concrete and agreeable plan for the use of the land. There is no need to rush in this matter.

Developing a library / community center is appealing, though I wonder if such a grandiose building (about 19,000 square feet if I remember correctly) is suited to that parcel. Additionally, including appropriate parking for such a facility may erode the small town character of the neighborhood. Such a grand plan may be better suited for another location. Even the road is narrow. On Sunday mornings Wolfe Ave. is full of cars and effectively becomes passable in one direction at a time — imagine what could happen with parking spillover during a popular event in a close neighborhood like that.

On another note, as our world becomes more digitally integrated, I have to question whether we need such a large facility for a library. The need to house numerous books for a quality library is being replaced with technology to a large extent. Investing in a library scaled towards traditional uses may be a thing of the past. It is not necessarily a bad thing that this process is delayed — perhaps a more modern and ground-breaking concept for a library or educational center will emerge.

Finally, while I am interested in learning about the costs of the building, the discussion is not complete without laying out the costs for staff, upkeep and maintenance year to year before any building is torn down or ground is dug up. Please do not make a mistake by destroying this house before all the homework is done. If it turns out the parcel is better suited to it remaining a home — so be it. There may be a loss involved in reselling it, but if the purchase and resale assists the process of planning and defining what is best for the town, then it’s not really a loss in the long run.

Thank you for your time.

Very Truly,
Jennifer Fleischmann
Beacon Falls