Letter: Tracy Lewis house about to be stripped clean

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To the editor,

More than two years ago the Beacon Falls town administration convinced the voters/taxpayers that Town Hall was over crowded and there was need for additional office/library space and the Tracy Lewis House at 35 Wolfe Ave. was purchased for that purpose. At time of purchase the house was lived in and in good condition for a 100-year-old historic structure. It was obvious that the Beacon Falls Rubber Shoe Company spared no expense when constructing a home for its president, Tracy Lewis.

The flood of 1955 wiped out many downtown historic structures and now the Tracy Lewis House is one of the few historic structures remaining to connect us with our historic industrial past. It is appropriate that the town own this property and put it to adaptive re-use as recommended by the Paul B. Bailey Architectural Firm study in May 2010.

But that is not to be. A minority group of our citizens envision only an empty building lot in which to construct a multi-million dollar, multi-use building. After spending over $400,000 to acquire the palatial home they want to create a vacant building lot worth perhaps $200,000. There is no approved budget line item to fund the demolition (perhaps $40,000) and there certainly isn’t any taxpayer approved plan for constructing a new multi-million dollar building. But they persist in their efforts to create a vacant lot.

The next step is to invite antique buyers and others to bid on the antique fixtures and other details. This will take place in the next week or so. Once the house is stripped and made unusable they will have a stronger argument as to why it should be demolished. And the sale of these artifacts may produce enough funds to pay for the demolition.

With no taxpayer approval and no funds for the construction of a new multi-million dollar building a vacant lot would obviously remain a neighborhood eyesore for a long time and may never be built upon. A traffic study may show that the narrow, congested Wolfe Avenue will not support such a structure.

Before this goes any further, now is the time for a voters’ referendum to determine if the voters and taxpayers want this town owned property destroyed and whether they support a new multi-million dollar library and mixed-use building on Wolfe Avenue.

If you are in favor of a referendum, now is the time to contact your selectman.

If the vacant lot is created, as planned, I predict this eyesore will become known as “Susan’s Folly.”

James W. Woodward

Beacon Falls