A Dilemma On Main Street
To the Editor:
I am Darlene W. Ryder, owner of 19 Main Street, the site of the former Inn at Newtown. Our family served the people of Newtown for 17 years and we were deeply saddened by having to close. We began trying to sell the Inn two years before the closing in January 2016. We have received no offers. The primary issue is that the building is old, unsound, and needs much more than a million dollars in refurbishment.
We certainly understood the dilemma the property represented for us and the town. A year before we closed, we began discussions with neighbors and had many meetings with town and borough staff asking what they would like done with the property.
We looked at an exhaustive number of suggestions, including:
Sale to the town, an assisted living facility, an urgent care facility, a wedding/party facility, a medical office center, a small business complex, a children’s park/playground, a nonprofit halfway house, affordable housing with preference for town employees, single family homes.
We asked two key questions of all ideas: Is it acceptable to most neighbors, and is it economically feasible? Economic analysis started with the fact that the site has to be cleared, including demolition and asbestos abatement — a huge expense that made several ideas, including the park and single family homes, impossible.
But, one idea, originally suggested by town/borough staff, stood out:
A relatively small group of high-quality, attractively-priced apartments designed for town residents who want to sell their homes, downsize, and stay in the town they love.
This idea is now being considered by the planning commission. Getting to this point has been time consuming and very expensive. We have spent five years and more than $500,000. We have hired architects and engineers and surveyors and financial advisers and developers and four law firms.
We are now working with two local developers and a neighborhood architectural firm to design the apartments in cooperation with the borough to preserve the character of Main Street.
There has recently been negative activity on social media. No thoughtful ideas on what to do, just a request for legal funds to assure nothing is done. Think about it. Doing nothing is not an option. We certainly do not wish to waste your money or ours on foolish legal battles. We are Newtown taxpayers like you. But we completely understand our rights, including the right to build substantially more apartments on that site than we are now planning. We want to be reasonable and neighborly but will insist on being treated fairly.
Please work with us to make this worthwhile solution happen.
Darlene W. Ryder
30 Fenwick Avenue, Old Saybrook October 8, 2019
Ms Ryder notes that they own property at 92 Poverty Hollow Road, as well as at 19 Main Street in Newtown.