Letter: Residents should have two options!

Posted 9/15/23

To the editor:

They say, “Life is Full of Choices!” So why is it, after two years, we (the residents of Barrington) are only offered one choice for the Monastery property?

I …

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Letter: Residents should have two options!


To the editor:

They say, “Life is Full of Choices!” So why is it, after two years, we (the residents of Barrington) are only offered one choice for the Monastery property?

I have read the original FTM minutes a dozen times and I am still trying to find the housing mandate that Council President Carl Kustell keeps referencing.  

The resolution read: “Resolution of the Financial Town Meeting Appropriating $3,500,000 to Fund the Acquisition and Preservation of the former Carmelite Monastery and the Financing thereof through the Issuance of General Obligation Bonds and/or Notes in an Amount not to Exceed $3,500,000”.

It was not clear from the FTM on June 16, 2021 that the intent to purchase the property was for the sole purpose of housing. The goal was to have control of the outcome of the property. Yes, affordable housing and senior housing were discussed as possible opportunities. However, the word “Preservation” was a part of the resolution language. The preservation of the Carmelite Monastery should include the grounds, as well.  

If the argument for why this property can not be open space is financial, then why would the Town Council vote to not look into grants? Grants could have offset the original investment, grants could have assisted in programming for this ppen space.  

If the only option is to remove the building, why wouldn’t the town look into what grants are available to assist in building demolition and asbestos abatement?

There is a need for both affordable housing and senior housing. However, those needs are not met by the housing plan pushing forward and this location is not the solution to the housing problem.  

It is irresponsible to propose a housing plan for 25 Watson without consideration of the potential 350 unit development at Belton Court Village (formerly Zion Bible College) which is a 40-acre property (36.9 acres in Barrington) located two miles down the road from the Monastery property (7.16 acres).  

In the most recent plan that was presented, there were five single family home lots, 14 age-restricted cottages (10 cottages were market value and 4 were affordable). Do active seniors want to live in an age-restricted, multi-level home with surface parking? If we are targeting people that are 55-plus to downsize their homes and purchase a “market-value” cottage…have we asked people what they are looking for? Market value for one of these age-restricted cottages could be $600,000-$700,000/each. 

In nine years, my husband and I will belong to the 55-plus empty-nester club. I guess we will be faced with many choices and questions; Do we invest in solar energy? Can we afford college tuition? Do we downsize our home and relocate elsewhere? What will be considered affordable then?

The vote to purchase the monastery property only won by one vote. With such a narrow margin, the Town Council should have to present multiple options to the residents. There should be a preservation option that involves Open Space Concept.

In the FAQ that was posted on the website — “The Town Council can present multiple options for the Town to vote on. One way would be to list the several options, with the order determined by the Town Council, presumably in order of Town Council preference. Each option would be voted on and in the event that more than one option were approved by a majority of electors, the Council would be empowered to move forward with any of the approved options.”

If we are to vote on demolishing the building, the Town Council should be discussing more than one program option: (1) A housing option and (2) open space/park option. Please let your voices be heard. Attend Town Council meetings, call and email your Town Councilors, write to the newspaper.  

One Plan is not a Choice!

Michelle Turgeon


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