What Makes Main Street Special?
From fears of traffic congestion and concern that our historic Main Street is drifting toward urbanization, from distress over zoning regulations and loss of history, the latest proposal to demolish and develop the Inn at Newtown into multifamily housing has awoken residents from their summer slumber.
Main Street is the heartbeat of Newtown. It throbs with life every Labor Day, as recently witnessed. Floods of costumed children — and some adults — flow down the thoroughfare every Halloween. The Holiday Festival invites throngs of visitors to historic homes and seasonal entertainment all up and down the central street. Every day, walkers and runners breathe in the loveliness of this classically New England roadway.
Traffic flows (and slows) past historic structures such as the Beech Library at the head of Main Street, the Matthew Curtiss House, Edmond Town Hall, the C.H. Booth Library, and yes — once it paused to admire the Inn at Newtown. Historically the home of town benefactress Mary Hawley, the Inn at Newtown was for decades the place to meet with friends and family for celebrations, meetings, or just to grab a spot near the front window and watch the world go by while dining.
It takes the right economy, management, and teamwork for a restaurant to succeed. Even under the best of circumstances, not all thrive. The Inn at Newtown met its match after years of pleasing its customers, closing its doors permanently in 2016. The reasons behind it are not as important as the fact that since then, this once iconic Main Street building has languished, hoping for the magic to be restored.
There is little magic to be found in apartment dwellings on Main Street, if popular commentary is to be believed.
What, though, is the solution? Dreams to recreate the space as an inn and restaurant or pub are coupled with the reality of the expense of restoring this building to its glory and bringing it up to standards of safety. It will take deep, deep pockets to turn this nightmare of neglect and overgrown shrubbery into a dream.
On September 11, the Borough of Newtown Zoning Commission accepted the application for zoning regulation amendments regarding this property. A chance for public comment will occur at an October public hearing when the BZC will review the recommendations of Planning & Zoning.
Apartments or condominiums on Main Street is not a done deal. There is time for citizens who say Nay to this proposal to contact members of Planning & Zoning, as well as Inland Wetlands Commission members, who could later be drawn into the discussion.
Proponents will rightly argue that well-done buildings will enhance Main Street and that only prohibitively exorbitant expenditure could return it to a meeting and eating emporium. Those opposed to this development on Main Street will need to come up with viable alternatives.
The continued deterioration of this building is a blight on our Main Street. One way or another, improvements to the property must come about.