Letter: Gateway or roadblock?

Posted 12/2/21

To the editor:Unwelcoming, Uninspiring, Unimaginative. Those are the three words that came to mind when I read the article in the Nov. 10 Warren Times, featured on the front page. It was a proposal …

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Letter: Gateway or roadblock?


To the editor:

Unwelcoming, Uninspiring, Unimaginative. Those are the three words that came to mind when I read the article in the Nov. 10 Warren Times, featured on the front page. It was a proposal for the National Grid property near the Warren side of the Warren Bridge. It’s being called the Gateway development and, if built, would be the “Gateway to Warren”.

In a previous letter to the editor, Mr. Andrew Shapiro explained very eloquently what was wrong with this proposal from an architectural standpoint. As a Master Architect, he made one valid point after another about what was wrong with this proposal. While I couldn’t make the technical arguments that Mr. Shapiro made, I can make some visual and historic arguments.

My first reaction to the picture on the front page depicting the building proposal was, “it’s a WALL, not a GATEWAY!” Visually, I probably know the Warren Waterfront better than anyone. Having photographed it thousands of times in all seasons and all kinds of weather I feel, visually, it is the most quintessential New England Waterfront in New England. What we do here needs to enhance the view coming into Warren — not block it.

As people come over the bridge, they are met with two outstanding views. One, an expansive view north of the Palmer River, and an equally stunning view of the Warren River looking south. That alone should make people stop. If, after viewing these two scenes, we present people with an equally welcoming scene at the National Grid property and a place for them to stop to learn more about what’s here and where they can find it, people will stop.

The whole historic district is going through a renaissance. I have been here for 75 years and the town has never looked so good. We need to sell our colonial charm, our historic waterfront and native history. Before anything is done here, there should be a committee made up of people from the Preservation Society, Historic Commission, “Townies” who have deep roots here, etc., to come up with ideas that will enhance the property and fit in with what’s appropriate to a “Gateway”. It shouldn’t be decided by an architect with a penchant for 55-foot block buildings and a developer out to make a profit.

We have one chance to get this right. This proposal is not that chance.

Butch Lombardi
East Bay Images Photography

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.