Matthew Mandell — one of the leaders in the fight to move the Kemper Gunn House across the street, from 35 Church Lane to the Baldwin parking lot — sent this today to his email list, following last night’s RTM decision:
What an amazing vote last night: 34-0 to approve the move of Kemper Gunn and the 8-24, thus overturning P&Z. The smiles on the RTM members stretched across the room. They knew they did something historic and great. Generations to come will say this RTM, and those Westporters in 2013, had vision.
The public support for this project was overwhelming from the start. It was your input, your emails, your signatures and your voices which made this happen. Never underestimate the power of the people to make things happen. Now let’s take that into the voting booths as well and elect P&Z commissioners who will follow through on saving the house and for greater protection of our Town’s history and character. A bit on that below.
If you were not there or didn’t watch on the toob, Morley Boyd, who led the appeal, delivered an A+ speech to start it off. We all knew why the house and location were key right from the start. David Waldman followed and improved on what he said last week and the momentum had begun.
The four Republican/Save Westport Now P&Z Commissioners stood as one and said they will be remaining on P&Z and will be there to help guide the house to its new home. Ron Corwin spoke in defense of the decision and was making sound points before veering off course.
The public was clear and unending in their support, including all three Democrat/Save Westport Now candidates for P&Z who all said they support moving and saving the house. In contrast, not one of the Coalition for Westport Candidates was there, this after their Chair sent a second email to the RTM questioning the move. Their absence seals their fate in my mind for being against the move and preservation. I really thought they would be there to repair their image, but nope.
The RTM members who spoke cleared up any issues about parking and preservation of the house. Even if there were parking issues, some saying there weren’t, they were outweighed by the value of saving the house and what it will bring to Elm Street.
Steve Rubin used Robert’s Rules to create quite a moment for the vote. He called the question and asked for a roll call as well, this set him up to be vote first, which I know he enjoyed. Then yes, after yea, after I, after yes with enthusiasm came until the moderator said “it is unanimous, 34-0, to overturn P&Z.” The room erupted in applause.
The house has not moved yet, and there is much work to do to get it there. Your continued support will be needed. You know I will let you know when a push from you will be needed on Kemper Gunn or on the next thing that will come up.
Again, thank yourselves for making this happen.