To the Editor:
Thank you to the 150-200 folks who made it so worthwhile having the Litchfield Courthouse opened for tours and your exploration last Sunday (April 8.) We on the Board of Trustees of The Greater Litchfield Preservation Trust appreciate your looking around and asking questions about the plans to adapt this historic building to be the town hall. Thank you also for leaving us with so many positive responses in our comments box.
We thank Judge Charles Gill for being there on Sunday in a courtroom, quite familiar to him, to answer questions and share stories about cases and the courthouse.
For those readers of this letter who have not had the chance to review the latest plans to repurpose the courthouse to a town hall, please see them on the Greater Litchfield Preservation Trust website.
Jerry Geci & Eileen Schimdt,
Open Courthouse Committee
Greater Litchfield Preservation Trust
To the Editor:
Conflict of Interest in Litchfield - Unbelievable the audacity of Litchfield’s Town Hall Review Committee to appoint architect John Martin to evaluate the two competing proposals for a new town hall. Why? Because one of the two competing proposals is from John Martin himself. Not only is this a blatant conflict of interest, it smacks loudly of favoritism if not cronyism. Especially so since Mr. Martin has been the only architect in recent memory to handle architectural work for Litchfield. Could Mr. Martin, in all honesty, be impartial and unbiased when evaluating his own town hall proposal versus one from a different architect? Not likely when the following is considered:
Included in the Town Hall Project on the Town of Litchfield web site, as proposed by Mr. Martin, $375,790 (p.8) is for architect/engineering fees. Add to this a rate of $150 per hour Mr. Martin is to receive for evaluating the competing proposals over the next few weeks (John McKenna, Republican-American, April 4th), and it becomes even harder to imagine an impartial and unbiased analysis.
Final note: According to the Town Hall Project Pro Forma Financing Plan (p.18), estimated bond issue principal cost (in 2016 dollars) is $5,907,000 plus $1,591,710 interest. This adds up to a real total estimated cost to the taxpayers of $7,498,710. Contrary to a statement in John McKenna’s article, cost for demolition of the existing town hall does not appear to be included in these numbers.
To the Editor:
Let me say I appreciate the careful and diligent process the Litchfield Town Hall Committee is going through to provide the town tax payers with accurate information with regards to the possible replacement of the town hall. Donating their time to evaluate such a possible controversial project is commendable.
It was, however, with dismay that I read the article in the April 4th edition of the Republican-American “Architect to Review Courthouse Plan.” I find it totally inappropriate and unethical for the committee to have selected architect John Martin to review the Greater Litchfield Preservation Trust’s plan for converting the old courthouse for use as the town hall.
Mr. Martin is the architect who submitted a design and competing plan for a new town hall and who has a financial stake in the outcome of the committee’s and town’s decision. With all due respect to Mr. Martin, I do not feel he can provide an unbiased evaluation and in no way should he be allowed to review a competitor’s plan and advise the committee on it.
I’m sure it made easy work for the committee to select him as he has already advised them but, although it would have been more work, the committee should have sought out an unbiased third-party firm to provide the review.
I urge the committee to take a small step back and correct this error of direction.
To the Editor:
Perhaps this is an opportune time to review a suggestion made a number of years ago, namely, that the Boards of Selectmen in Litchfield and Goshen request permission of the Goshen Agricultural Society to use its fairgrounds for a July Fourth patriotic program.
Available on site, on a state highway, are:
a) Acreage for spectators and parking:
b) Acreage for a fireworks display;
c) Unimpeded views;
d) Facilities for preparation and serving food;
e) Bandstand for local musicians.
A $5.00 per vehicle charge could be assessed with the proceeds divided among the volunteer ambulance and fire companies of both communities.
Thomas F. Hogan
To the Editor:
Last night, as a member of the Board of Finance, I attended the meeting of Town Hall Review Committee. The committee discussed at length obtaining estimates for the costs of building various configurations of a new town hall.
Surprisingly, what was not discussed was how or who was going to pay for this. Apparently, it is assumed that the taxpayers are simply going to vote to put $4 to $7 million, or more, on the Town’s credit card.
Maybe so, but over the past two years, numerous people from both parties have told me that they hoped I wouldn’t vote for a new Town Hall. And, I’ve never had a single person tell me that they think it’s a great idea. To avoid going through an exercise in political futility, the Committee should be putting effort into finding money for the project other than simply from the taxpayers’ pockets.
Here are two suggestions.
First, steps should be taken for appraising and selling the Town Hall Annex in Bantam. I’ve heard about plans for giving this property to the Litchfield Housing Trust. Hopefully, this is inaccurate. During these times of stripped down budgets, the town can’t afford to give $1 million to any of the many deserving community organizations in town. Perhaps the Trust can make good use of the property, but they need to pay for it.
Second, an effort should be made to find a family interested and willing to memorialize the Town Hall, such as was done with the Bryan Memorial Town Hall in Washington. There are a number of Litchfield families who have the means and civic history that would make such a memorial fitting for both the family and the Town.
Together, these two sources of funds might render a balance that our taxpayers would be glad to support.
Litchfield Board of Finance