July 28, 2021

Finding it Odd That Interests of Historic Preservation Were Ignored for Decades

To the Editor:

First, at a time when the business model for community-based journalism has been crushed by society’s lamentable disinterest, I offer sincere gratitude for the dogged persistence of Town Topics and its local reporting. Publishing weekly in ink, on paper, you invite the news of the moment to be held with respectful hands for consideration and close attention. We are all better for your efforts. Don’t give up.

Second, I am following your coverage of a redevelopment proposal for Prospect Avenue and the rising hue and cry from dissentient voices of historic preservation (“HPC Considers Club Row Historic District,” page 1, July 21). It’s a veritable planning and zoning “whodunnit?” decades in the making.

Literally, a page turner. It was fascinating to learn that Prospect Avenue redevelopment vulnerability was identified as early as 1992, that strategies were available to give the community a seat at the planning table for this historically and aesthetically important part of the town, but that nothing was done for 26 years. This is a real head-scratcher, wouldn’t you agree? It’s there that I began flipping the pages back and forward. Did I miss the big reveal? What explains this gap between situational awareness and action? Would you consider following up?

Neither side should ever be faulted for acting from a place of self-interest (and I take no side in this latest commotion), but the community would be well (better?) served by leaders who think and plan with the same firm resolve as its semi-autonomous neighbor. Leaders who are dispassionately clear-eyed, unconflicted, fully informed, expertly advised, and bravely transparent. In addition to Prospect Avenue, there are important projects in visible places all around town that will come before a usually assertive planning and zoning process. It’s odd that the bona fide interests of historic preservation were so casually ignored for nearly three decades. And no one has explained why.

This all parties will agree, the proposed plan for Prospect Avenue is a real game changer.

John A. Heffern
Toftrees Court