Letter: Reasons we voted against an option to demolish

Posted 5/25/22

To the editor:

We are respectfully submitting a minority statement to explain our negative votes at the Ad Hoc 25 Watson Avenue committee on April 25, to have the option to demolish the Monastery …

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Letter: Reasons we voted against an option to demolish

Posted

To the editor:

We are respectfully submitting a minority statement to explain our negative votes at the Ad Hoc 25 Watson Avenue committee on April 25, to have the option to demolish the Monastery building. 

We are grateful to Teresa Crean, director of planning, other members of the Ad Hoc Committee, and members of the town council for their collective efforts on behalf of the taxpayers of Barrington. The number of issues coming before the council are varied and impact different constituents from across Barrington. We are also grateful to have been added to the 25 Watson Ad Hoc committee to represent the neighbors and abutters of the Monastery. 

We voted against the proposal to add an option to demolish the monastery for the following reasons. 

1. At the Financial Town Hall meeting almost a year ago, May 2021, the town voted to purchase the 25 Watson Avenue property and to preserve the monastery. We have been meeting in good faith and within the limits imposed by the FTM vote, by President Carroll’s clear statement that the monastery will not be torn down, and based on the town’s solicitor statements at the FTM. We have also been committed to aligning our recommendations to the major themes of the town’s legal, state-approved 10-year comprehensive plan, and to the majority of community input during this process. 

2. The Ad Hoc committee had insufficient data at hand to make an informed decision related to the motion to include the demolition of the monastery building. The rationale offered for the vote was to give more flexibility for development options. At the Ad Hoc meetings we have not seen any neighborhood impact analyses or data, and there has been little consideration of the town’s comprehensive plan or of the FTM vote to preserve the monastery. 

3. The town solicited input from the community of Barrington on at least three different occasions. First at the FTM, second via online comment of the various development pipeline options, and third at a hybrid public workshop on March 28, 2022 which included “dot voting” for preferred development options. In every one of these community solicitations for input, the community voted to preserve the monastery. 

4. During the course of our meetings it was revealed that the monastery is constructed with material that contains asbestos. There is apparently no risk to the neighbors (or future occupants) unless the building is demolished. Demolition has the potential to result in an unnecessarily health risk to abutters and the general neighborhood due to the asbestos contained within the building walls and foundation. We ask you all to consider whether you would be comfortable living immediately next to an asbestos-containing demolition project? Would you risk exposing your family, children, grandchildren? What are we to do? Leave our homes until the demolition is finished? 

It seems prudent to assess building re-use options and to analyze neighborhood impact before adding an option to demolish the building. 

Thank you all for considering these concerns. 

David Butera

Barrington

Mary Grenier

Barrington

Diane Lipscombe 

Barrington

This letter was submitted to Barrington Town Council President Michael Carroll. 

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