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Letter to Editor: Collinsville Historic District Commission Members Oppose Building the Town Garage on 50 River Road

October 17, 2016 Government, Opinion, Referendum 2 Comments

To the Editor:

The Collinsville Historic District Commission recognizes the urgent need for a new facility for the Department of Public Works but it is concerned with the impact the project will have on the historic character of the town if the project is built on the 50 River Road site. This location seems to be a compromise solution that deprives DPW of the larger facility needed and proposed for other sites while introducing a modern industrial building unlike any other in Collinsville. The proposed metal building will not be sympathetic with the town’s 19th century origins and will be a jarring interruption of the natural beauty of the river scape.

There is, however, an existing building on the site that complements the town’s character and which should be preserved. The brick barn currently being used for storage by DPW is quite a unique building. One of the Commission’s members who is a professional in the historic preservation field and has had extensive experience statewide in assessing barns of all vintages, has noted that the brickwork pattern, known as Flemish bond, is exceptionally rare in Connecticut and displays very fine craftsmanship. In fact, he has not observed this pattern on any of the hundreds of buildings he has assessed in the state. This building, possibly originally a carriage house, deserves to be appreciated on its own merits and eventually restored to its original state. It could serve many uses on a recreational site but will go practically unnoticed and little used as an appendage to a large metal industrial building. The Commission is also concerned with the fate of this structure if the site is raised above the flood plain.

The Collinsville Historic District Commission was established “..to promote the educational, cultural, economic and general welfare of the Town of Canton and others through the preservation and protection of buildings and places of historic interest within the Village of Collinsville, a unique example of an early one-company mill town, and through the development and retention of appropriate settings for such buildings and places”. (Ordinance #189, Town of Canton).

The Commission believes that, consistent with other planning studies conducted in past years, the 50 River Road site should be reserved for uses that will respect the town’s history and urges the voters to vote No on the Town Garage referendum question. This site needs to be preserved for recreational use and improved river access and the DPW needs to have the facilities that it originally determined were necessary to serve the town now and in the future.

The Collinsville Historic District Commission
Stephen Veillette, Chairman
Walter Kendra
James Grant
Eric Jackson
Sylvia Cancela

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