Here’s what we’ve been up to in 2013—
HNPP worked to enact Stamford’s new Historic Preservation Advisory Commission ordinance. After 65% of Stamford voters favored establishing a City Historic Preservation Advisory Commission (HPAC) in November, 2012, HNPP worked with the Land Use Committee of the Board of Representatives to draft the ordinance. Connecticut’s State Charter recognizes historic preservation to be a public good and enables municipalities to establish a broad spectrum of historic preservation commissions ranging from those which simply commemorate historic places with plaques to those which actually regulate physical changes to properties. Stamford’s HPAC is in the middle of this range, intended to review projects proposed to the City’s planning and zoning commissions and other departments and advise the City on the preservation consequences. HPAC will bring an important new voice to the land use review process whose absence is writ large on the face of the City. Unfortunately, the previous administration saw no urgency to appoint members to the new commission after the ordinance was enacted in May 2013, so HNPP continued to provide this voice albeit as an outsider to the process. We will remain vigilant in 2014 and are hopeful that the new administration will soon make the long overdue HPAC appointments.
In the absence of the HPAC, HNPP was Stamford’s leading voice for historic preservation in negotiating alternatives to the demolition of significant threatened buildings, structures and places including:
The now closed Post Office. This architecturally distinguished National Register of Historic Places-listed building faces uncertain site redevelopment. The most recent proposal, which is contingent upon sale (now on hold) calls for demolition of the finely detailed 1935 rear addition. It remains on our watch list.
The former Winski Drug Store (1914). One of the last historic commercial/residential buildings once characteristic of the South End and the place of business of pharmacist Frank Winski, the unofficial “Mayor” of the neighborhood’s resident Polish community in its heyday was threatened by demolition for a proposed widening of the intersection of Henry and Atlantic Street. HNPP and the South End NRZ successfully advocated for an alternative alignment around this National Register of Historic Places-listed building, developed in cooperation with the State DOT and City Engineering.
The former U. S. Naval Reserve Training Center (1949). At the dawn of the Cold War, these utilitarian World War II surplus buildings on the east branch of the canal supported a submarine chaser stationed in Stamford to patrol the Sound. Threatened with demolition for proposed Magee Avenue boat storage facility intended to replace the historic (now demolished) Luder’s boatyard on the west branch, HNPP brought the building’s important history to light during public hearings before the Planning Board this summer. HNPP is currently preparing the application to list the buildings on the State Register of Historic Places in order to make them eligible to receive State matching funds for needed restoration work.
The former Lincrusta-Walton Factory smokestack (1884). HNPP successfully objected to the removal of the South End’s last remaining smokestack, which bears a plaque commemorating the passing of Stamford’s industrial era, during a public hearing on a zoning change application for the site.
The South End National Register Historic District. The greatest threat to Stamford’s largest residential historic district have been contemplated road widenings triggered by proposed high density re-development projects such as the transit oriented development (TOD) near the rail station and Bridgewater at the historic Ludder’s boatyard site. Developments at this scale were not anticipated in City’s current master plan and planning for the infrastructure needed to support them has been piecemeal and opaque to residents and others concerned with the South End’s well-being. Without comprehensive planning, there has been an on-going reduction of on-street parking, a basic need for residents in the historic housing stock which was developed before the automobile and without driveways. Widening roads to accommodate higher volumes of transient cars in the modes of Tresser Boulevard and the Urban Transitway threatens to destroy the pedestrian quality and safety of streets like lower Atlantic Street. HNPP will continue to press the City and State to develop a comprehensive infrastructure plan for the South End that addresses the residents’ concerns and respects the historic district.
The former Andrew Dogherty House (1770), HNPP was unsuccessful in preventing the demolition on October 21 of this irreplaceable home of a veteran of the American Revolution and perhaps one of Stamford’s earliest Irish-Americans. For more information on the Dogherty House, click here: http://hnppinc.org/uncategorized/a-very-special-part-of-stamford-history-gone-forever/
109 West Broad Street (1910). Built as a two-family house first occupied by employees of Yale & Towne, HNPP obtained a demolition delay to explore alternatives with the owner and neighborhood stakeholders. After reviewing plans with all parties and determining the historic integrity of the house to be compromised beyond repair, HNPP lifted its objection in a timely basis.
The former Bedford Hall, aka Brockton Manor, Bouton & Reynolds, 545 Bedford Street (c1900). HNPP obtained a demolition delay on this architecturally and historically significant downtown landmark. Identified by the noted architectural historian Alan Burnham as one of the 100 most important Stamford buildings worthy of preservation in 1978, the building is threatened by redevelopment of the site. HNPP is currently discussing alternatives with the developer.
HNPP also continued its longstanding role of providing technical assistance in historic preservation projects such as:
The former Roxbury Church parsonage. As a consultant to the City, HNPP assisted the owner obtain a Section 7.3 zoning bonus for deconstruction, relocation and adaptive re-use of this historic late nineteenth century residence converted to a real estate office.
The Ferguson Library. HNPP assisted the Library develop a scope of work and apply for grant funding from the State Department of Economic and Community Development for the restoration of the fire-damaged front portico on the National Register listed main downtown branch.
The former St. Luke’s Church and Parish Hall. HNPP supported the National Register listed building’s tenant, Inspirica, in its application to the State Department of Economic and Community Development for grant funding of exterior restoration and Sandy-damaged repair work.
Stamford’s Master Plan is in the process of revision, and HNPP participated in all of the general and most of the neighborhood workshops to advocate for a balance between neighborhood preservation, the overwhelming desire of residents, and new development.
On April 25, 2013 we became eligible for $ 65,275 in annual matching funds for two years from the Historic Preservation Division of the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development. Known as a Basic Operating Services Grant (BOSG), this support, which must be matched dollar for dollar, will enable HNPP to grow closer to parity with other citywide historic preservation non-profits and aid us in fulfilling our mission to protect and preserve historic resources. We are using the funding to increase our organizational capacity, hire staff and provide expanded technical and educational services to the community. About a third of our match money will come from a grant of $ 22,100 from the Stamford Community Development Program (SCDP), a major source of funding over the years. To earn that we provide consulting services to the SCDP in neighborhoods eligible for federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding and participate in the federal environmental review process. This grant also funds our popular newsletter, Historic Neighborhood News and assists this website. Another source of earned match revenue is HNPP’s contracted work with Stamford’s Land Use Department as needed to help it review applications for Historic Density Bonuses, Section 7.3 of Stamford’s Zoning Regulations.
Lastly, we became a membership organization in October to enable individuals and businesses to join in our work to make Stamford a better place to live.