Letter: Informed citizenry needed to decide fate of Tracy Lewis House

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To the editor,

Months ago the Board of Selectmen, in a split decision, voted to “immediately tear down the Tracy Lewis House.”

Since then they have been searching for public funds to pay for the demolition. But at a (July 9) town informational meeting and again at a (July 11) Board of Selectmen’s meeting it was announced that the fate of this historic palatial home would be decided by public referendum. The reason given for the change of heart was that different groups had strong opinions as to what should happen to the house.

Some think the house should be sold in order to recoup some of the taxpayer’s $400,000 investment. One thought is that it could become an attractive funeral home in the vicinity of our two churches. Beacon Falls does not have a funeral home.

Some think the house should be torn down in order to create a location for a multi-million dollar media center/library to be built primarily with taxpayer money as state building grants are difficult to acquire during this recession.

And some think the house should be put to “adaptive reuse” as recommended by the Paul Bailey Architectural Firm and as was the original purpose for purchasing the property.

The house could be modified and improved step by step as needed. But to what use could it be put? Should the Senior Center be moved to this location, giving our seniors a more spacious and cozy environment, while at the same time making space for the expansion of the Fire Department and EMT facilities into the present Senior Citizen Center?

Should the Town Nurse’s office be moved to the Tracy Lewis House? Should the items stored in the basement of the Senior Center and owned by various civic organizations be moved? Should the Historic Society be given space for the display and storage of valuable documents and historic treasures, which are now being stored in the basements of Historic Society members? Should we rejuvenate the in-ground swimming pool for use of our kids during hot summer days?

What are your ideas? Now is the time to speak out.

No date has been set for the referendum. But before our citizens can make an informed vote it will be imperative that the Tracy Lewis House be made available, on several occasions, for public inspection, inside and out. Only an informed public can make an intelligent decision of this importance. Members of the Historic Society are available to conduct tours and point out significant features of the house.

Please inspect the house, ask questions, discuss it with others and form your own opinion. Then vote. You have one of three choices. Sell it, destroy it, or use it.

James W. Woodward

Beacon Falls