Arts Campus On Baron’s South? P&Z Draws The Line.

The Westport Arts Center is a wonderful, vibrant place.

It’s also wholly inadequate.

Essentially one long room on Riverside Avenue — with a spectacular view of the Saugatuck River — it functions as a small studio and gallery. But it can host only one meeting, lecture, concert, class or exhibit at a time.

Given Westport’s long arts heritage — and the interest of so many Westporters, from senior citizens to kids, in art in all its forms — it’s no wonder the WAC has sought more suitable digs.

Last fall, town representatives approached the organization. Would the WAC be interested in preserving and using Golden Shadows — the main building on the southeast corner of 23-acre Baron’s South (named for the perfume developed by its previous owner, Baron Walter Langer von Langendorff) — for exhibits and performances?

Golden Shadows. (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

The town soon came back with a new question: Would the WAC like to take over the other 3 long-neglected buildings there too?

Meanwhile, a group of veteran, well-respected local artists and photographers — including Leonard Everett Fisher, Ann Chernow, Miggs Burroughs, Niki Ketchman and Larry Silver — had been meeting regularly to discuss their own idea.

These “deans” of the Westport arts scene wanted a dedicated museum-type space to preserve the town’s artistic legacy.

And at the same time, folks like Burroughs, Westport arts curator Kathie Motes Bennewitz, RTM moderator Eileen Lavigne Flug and the Westport Historical  Society’s Bob Mitchell were seeking ways to involve the WAC more fully with other arts organizations in town.

The result was a public/private partnership to create a “community arts campus” at Baron’s South.

As presented last night by 3rd Selectman Helen Garten, at a Planning & Zoning Commission pre-application meeting, there would be 3 phases:

  1. The Westport Arts Center would lease and restore Golden Shadows, retaining most of its decorative interior, for use as offices, classrooms and gallery space.
  2. The WAC would lease and restore the  Tudor revival guest house at 70 Compo Road South as additional gallery space.
  3. They would lease the 2 units at 52 and 52B Compo Road South, for use as artists’ residences.

The house next door to Golden Shadows. The plan would have leased it to artists.

“Leasing all 4 buildings to a single user is the best way to ensure minimal impact on the public open space and surrounding neighborhood,” Garten said.

“Instead of 4 separate buildings, each accessed by its own roadway and each with its own use, there will be a single integrated property.” It would function much as the baron’s estate did, decades ago.

However, P&Z members gave the arts campus plan a frosty reception last night. A pre-app meeting is intended to give applicants a sense of what the zoning board feels about a plan. Commissioners insisted that the concept is too intense for the “light use” zoning of Baron’s South. It’s zoned as “passive recreational open space.”

Arts advocates were unsure last night what their next step will be.

Back to the drawing board they go.

A view into Golden Shadows’ central parlor shows a chandelier and handsome circular staircase. (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

The town currently owns 72 Compo Road South, on the eastern edge of Baron’s South. This was planned to be gallery space.

69 responses to “Arts Campus On Baron’s South? P&Z Draws The Line.

  1. John Englehart

    I love this idea. Interested to hear more about the Commissioners’ criteria for ‘light use’. A WAC “community arts campus” seems hard to beat.

    • John F. Suggs

      As a long time Open Space Advocate who proudly supported the P&Z’s visionary designation of Barons South as Open Space when it came before the RTM and as a long time Westport Historic Preservationist (Saugatuck Swing Bridge, Greens Farms West Parish Colonial Church/Meeting House Historic Property, etc) who has spent countless hours over the years working to preserve and protect Golden Shadows, I have to say that the P&Z’s initial negative reaction last night to this pre-app is unfathomable. This proposed WAC art campus is the perfect solution to preserving the historic structures and maintaining the vital Open Space of the property.

      As preservationist well know, no one can preserve an historic structure if it can’t be successfully reused. These beautiful historic structures continue to remain at risk of being slowly destroyed by over 20 years of town neglect. Let us bring them back to life! Let us create this art campus so that everyone can always enjoy the amazing Open Space of Barons South.

      Last night, we heard the initial negative feedback from the P&Z to this “win/win solution” for the Town, the Art Community, Open Space proponents and Historic Preservationists. Now let the P&Z hear from the community and, in true Westport fashion, let the debate begin!

      John F. Suggs
      RTM District 5

    • E. van Dorsten

      “Wait, What?” …..Of course the Planning & Zoning Commission will come around to discussing this creative use of the Baron’s South space. It will just take a little time for the Westport residents to pull together and show their support for the idea and provide the commission with good solid reasoning for why this can be a “win-win” for the town and its residents. What better setting could there be for the WAC than a peaceful, bucolic location such as Baron’s South ?? ..and so close to the Westport senior center !! …if adhering to “light use” is important then perhaps proposals for how to do that would be a great way to continue the discussion.

  2. Better than sitting vacant.

  3. Lance Lundberg

    This is a wonderful idea. It coexists nicely with the open use space surrounding it, enables the town to cease paying for the cost of maintains these buildings after nearly twenty years, provides financing to access and park for all users (what use is a park if you can’t safely access it?), and opens these shuttered buildings for public use. I can’t visualize many alternative uses for this “campus”

    • Barry Lieberman

      Hi Lance:
      Amen and here’s hoping that this proposal comes to life.
      Best regards,
      Barry Lieberman

  4. Wendy Crowther

    I am appalled that the P&Z Commission showed zero interest in this great proposal. The town has owned these historic buildings for nearly 20 years, and throughout that time, it has demonstrated a pathetic record of caring for them and the 20 acres of gorgeous open space that surrounds them.

    If not for the advocacy of open space activists (I am one) and historic preservationists (I am one), Baron’s South and its fabulous Golden Shadows mansion, along with the mansion’s accessory buildings, would have continued to decline.

    Kudos to our Third Selectwoman, Helen Garten, who fully understood that the best way to preserve historic structures is to find uses for them. She found the perfect potential tenant in the Westport arts community.

    What fantastic synergy this would create at Baron’s South. Not only would it allow full public access to the entire 20 acres of surrounding open space, it would also allow public access to the historic buildings’ interior spaces which are uniquely frozen in time and could, at last, be celebrated.

    The Baron, himself, was an art collector. The owner of the property prior to the Baron was Angus MacDonall, a famous artist. Westport itself was once a thriving arts community – we all know that art is in Westport’s genes.

    This is the PERFECT use for these buildings. It invites public use of the structures as well as the entire property. There are no other uses that would provide this combination of benefits. NONE. And this can all be gained, not by expanding buildings into Baron’s South’s open spaces (as was just approved at the Sr. Center by the same P&Z), but by minimally expanding parking – something that would likely have been needed for any potential, new use.

    As one of Westport’s biggest open space fans, and as someone who has fought for years to get the town to take care of Baron’s South and its historical buildings, I am 100% in favor of this plan. I remain shocked at the P&Z’s total dismissal of this fantastic idea.

  5. Heather Wilson

    Does this mean its a dead issue?

  6. Heather Wilson

    The other great factor is its located in the area of the Westport Playhouse. This will bring more inteterest to and from tbe new Arts center. This seems like a perfect place and the artist in residence is further one of the best uses for the additional nuildings I’m excited about this and the committee that is forming to make this come true.

  7. Sharon Horowitz

    Let me see if I understand this correctly: The P &Z is giving serious consideration to approve a text amendment that will allow a marijuana dispensary in town… (see westportnow)– but will not support a brilliant, creative– out of the box solution to allow artists (many of whom, I believe are seniors) to have their own artist campus. Like Wendy, I too fought hard to preserve Barron’s South as open space. I don’t believe Helen Garten’s proposal threatens the integrity of open space. Just the opposite, it enhances it.

  8. What a brilliant and creative idea. I think it will make a positive contribution to the arts community in Westport.

  9. Don L. Bergmann

    Many, many months ago I contacted Lance Lundberg of the WAC to inquire if the WAC might be interested in Golden Shadows. I have had an active role in addressing Golden Shadows, along with many others, as well as roles in the protection of Baron’s South and the enhancement of the Senior Center. The WAC had not given thought to the idea until I brought it up. Now, with the work of Helen Garten and, again, many others a wonderful proposal is taking shape that would preserve Golden Shadows and its related structures, provide public access to the beautiful interior of Golden Shadows to view art work and combine the interests of Westport’s many art oriented groups, all at no cost to our great Town. WAC would use funds already designated from its donors for a new location for the required work for Golden Shadows and its related buildings. So to all, this is an alive and beautiful opportunity. Let’s not criticize the P&Z Commission for their initial reaction. There are many new people on the Commission and many who may not realize the support for this effort within the Town, including the RTM and the BOF. I worked hard to achieve the open space designation of Baron’s South. I also worked hard to secure support for the enhancement of the Senior Center located in Baron’s South. I am working hard to make sure that the proposal for trails within, and tasteful access to Baron’s South
    to be presented by Parks & Rec. in the next month or two retains the beauty and character of Baron’ South. The initial reaction of the P&Z Commission should be viewed simply as a realization that some work needs to be done. The P&Z Commission, as constituted, is a body committed to maintaining the beauty and appeal of Westport. This WAC effort of Jim Marpe, Helen Garten, many on the RTM, the leadership of WAC, indeed, the entire arts community will gain traction and support. The P&Z Commission will come around. Baron’s South will be preserved as open space forever, but will continue to be enhanced by a fabulous Senior Center and now by the preservation and quite incredible use of Golden Shadows and its related buildings by the Westport’s Arts Community. Let us all work with the P&Z Commission. I know well many of the members and believe they will do the right thing.
    Don Bergmann

  10. This is such a great idea! Those buildings have been standing vacant for so long. Golden Shadows is beautiful and should be revived to its former splendor. To me, this is the perfect use of that Town-owned space–preserving homes and preserving and expanding the art legacy of Westport. I REALLY hope the P&Z reconsiders their “frosty” attitude.

  11. As one of the people who fought to preserve Barons South and the historic buildings on it, I almost became physically sick by what I heard certain P&Z Commissioners say last night.

    A few didn’t seem to really seem to understand the gravity of the moment but most of them knew that this was it; there’s no Plan B for these wonderful buildings – unless you count demolition.

    Half my livingroom is dedicated to a pile of documents associated with the years long effort to save this place and repurpose these buildings in an appropriate way. I believe I know the issues pretty well. Thus, I can say without hesitation that this is a thoughtful plan that truly serves the interests of all Westporters in a way that respects our history, preserves the setting and honors our community’s arts heritage – all at no cost to the taxpayer.

    • It may be a good idea, but there is a cost to the taxpayer. They are surrendering use of a public asset to a private entity. Will the taxpayers receive any economic rewards? Will the rewards be competitive?

      • The reward is in what we pass down from one generation to another, not competition. Why must there be an economic benefit when it is part of the history and culture or Westport. THIS is why we pay taxes, not to expand the mindset of always getting an economic return.

        • There is a fiduciary responsibility involved. If the town is going to reward a private entity with the benefits of the use of taxpayer owned assets, then there should be some compensation, and it should be a fair compensation. There should be an economic return because the town is transferring assets with an economic value.

      • We will still own the buildings after all the improvements that the Westport Art Center will make. And the taxpayers are relieved of the maintenance burden for same.

        • There has been no discussion of competitive uses for the asset. There is a clamoring to reward one special interest with access to the asset. This special interest has a history of using taxpayer funded assets. What is that history,and what can be learned from it?

      • Michael,

        This asset has been completely wasting for years now. Firstly, the town finds a steward for it. And second, the town creates, or rather has created for us, a public good that really enhances the community. Every town is looking to create just these types of “mixed cultural” offerings to enhance the vibrancy of the community. And most don’t have an asset like this available. – Chris Woods

        • It is not a public good; there is rivalry in consumption. If the WAC uses the asset, some other private entity cannot. I do agree the asset has been wasting, but that condition should have been anticipated before the town bought the property. There has never been a long range plan for its use, and now as a result of the lack of planning. organizations line up to claim it for themselves.

          • What sort of “private entity” are you referring to, Michael? WAC is an organization that can benefit the entire community (even for those of us former Westporters who now live in Fairfield or other nearby towns). I can’t think of any other that would do as much.

  12. Michael Delgass

    Westport’s arts legacy is a tremendously important part of its history and its future. Using Baron South in a way that both showcases that legacy and preserves open space seems like a huge win for our area. If we don’t do something with this space that provides maintenance, care and actual use of its buildings, this valuable town resource will decline into an expensive eye sore. This proposal seems like a “no-brainer.”

  13. Sylvia Robinson Corrigan

    The Westport Arts Center also sponsors music performances. I hope that there would be space dedicated to music, should this dream become a reality. That chandelier and staircase with some open space would make a beautiful area for quartets, jazz groups and and piano and vocal performances,surrounded by paintings and sculpture.
    And places for art classes, perhaps, too?
    What possibility!

  14. Sounds like a great idea. Let’s make it happen.

  15. Allowing the WAC to use this beautiful space and preserve and maintain the structures enhances the beauty of the landscape and continues the artistic history of Westport for our students and the students of other towns to share our town culture and national contributions with us to inspire young people to participate in the in the dreams we hold toward peace. I would like to see the P&Z reconsider their decision because we have nothing in this country if we do not have our arts, culture, and education. The WAC proposal is just wonderful.

  16. Werner Liepolt

    I found it strange and disquieting to read of the P&Z’s negative response to the worthy proposal to put the Westport Arts Center in the existing buildings on the Baron’s South property.

    Far better that a vital, active organization that continues and celebrates Westport’s artistic heritage and community than vacant, buildings used for storage.

  17. Wilhelmina de Haas

    As a member of the WAC and a member of the Westport Artists Collective, I am MORE than excited about this idea! Oh I truly hope we can make this happen! It looks beautiful – I’m going to start praying and hoping now! C’mon Westport! Let’s do it! 🙂

  18. I am very curious to hear more specifics on P & Z’s reluctance because this proposal sounds fantastic. (And it’s not as if Baron’s South is the equivalent of Central Park. And even Central Park has buildings in it that are devoted to public use.)

  19. I also like the idea of a community arts center. I agree that the one on Riverside is not adequate for this community’s needs. More programming would bring more enthusiasm about the arts to a world where we need to have more focus on the arts. Not sure a residence is needed however? Would like to hear more on that.

  20. I just got back from helping an artist at the Biennale in Venice with her installation. Venice brilliantly solved the problem of open space and grandfathered buildings by doing almost exactly what was proposed. They integrated existing green park-like areas to connect the underused buildings.(the biggest difference in Venice is you leave your car behind in a public lot and get to have healthy walks) The result is now world famous, used by old and young and attracting millions of tourists. I wasn’t at town hall last night but I’d like to understand what the objections were about. This seems to me the way to move forward.

  21. Mary Ann West

    Recently I toured the Torpedo Factory (http://torpedofactory.org/) in Alexandria, VA with a Westporter. We lamented on how Westport, with such a strong artisan history, would benefit from an art space where galleries, working artist studios, and an art school could all thrive at the same time.

    This concept for Baron’s South is brilliant! Another jewel in Westport’s emerald necklace.

  22. Carol Buffinton

    It appears that this proposal is the perfect answer to maintaining and utilizing buildings in a manner that works for both the town and the townspeople. Clearly, moving forward with the proposed use should be a top priority!

  23. Seems like a perfect use for that site.

  24. Sarah Green-Motyl

    Reading the comments thus far has been tremendously encouraging and I hope the members of P&Z will take note. This seems to be the PERFECT combination of art-meets-preservation-meets-inspiration-meets-community. What is the issue? What could be better for a town like Westport with its history as a Mecca for artists and the arts? Barons South is the ideal location where the WAC may expand its programming while allowing local area artists a spectacularly beautiful and accessible venue at which they may share and display their passion. As a former ballerina/artist myself, I am proud to live in a town that promotes the cultivation and advancement of the arts and, indeed, it was one of the reasons we decided to settle here. Please, P&Z, listen to the community you represent – a community arts campus at Barons South is a win/win for all!

    • Lynn Untermeyer Miller

      This is a Wonderful idea. Brilliant. And if this can’t happen, these buildings would remain empty???
      This is such a brilliant idea ….I hope we can make this happen.

  25. Michael Calise

    The P & Z should not be roundly criticized for their reaction last night, Do recall that they waged a long and hard fight to preserve this property as open space of which we have a significant deficit. The “pre app” process is intended to float an idea to the P & Z for feedback including direction. The applicants came with a plan to significantly expand the “Golden Shadows” building, to install a double lane access road and to add significant parking. It was not a simple let us fix up these buildings and put them to good use but rather a major redevelopment. I can understand the P & Z’s initial reaction. Also for those commissioner’s who have been here long enough to remember the Town of Westport had a very bad experience when they previously needed to re-establish Greens Farms School and received an unwelcome response from the Arts Center to the tune of a significant payout from the town. The Art’s Center is certainly a great community asset and I am sure a reasonable resolution which is sensitive to as many other interests as possible will be found. .

  26. Love this idea! Count us in! P&Z – please listen to your constituents!

  27. I passed through the park twice a day for several years as I commuted to work by bicycle. Never saw anyone else and watched the buildings and property decline considerably.

    An arts center is a no-brainer to restore /preserve the property while creating a jewel of an asset for the community. Chris Woods

  28. This is a town jewel that has never been able to shine, an asset any other town would be ecstatic to have for such a proposed use! A unique and rare piece of real estate that has sat unused when it could bring such positive joy to our town!

  29. Dick Denholtz

    I know making important decisions like this will take some time and lively debate; but I strongly encourage our Planning and Žoning Commission to approve the four buildings on “the Baron’s Property” to be leased to the Westport Arts Center. This is a brilliant Idea for vibrant use of town property that has lain dormant for many years.

  30. This sound like a fab idea- I remember when WAC was at Greens Farms School and the classrooms were rented out as artists studios. I currently live across the street from the current WAC location and there is very little daily traffic. On the occasion of an event, there is a crowd but a manageable amount of traffic. Linda Amos said it perfectly “This is a town jewel that has never been able to shine” – Seems like a win-win and the P&Z is being a bit closed-minded.

  31. Miggs Burroughs

    The P&Z argument seemed to be about preserving this property as “public space” but if there is no reason for the general public to use it now, beyond a handful of hikers, then it is just wasted space. The Westport Arts Center would actually bring the public into the space and bring Golden Shadows into the light, where it can be appreciated for the art and culture it will contain.
    WAC’s move will not affect the hiking or biking paths, but it will carve out a new path for people, near and far, to enjoy the beauty inside and out.

    • Sharon Paulsen

      Well put, Miggs!

      Your stance makes perfect sense to me.

      Sounds like a smart approach to re-energizing those buildings, long neglected, abused by break-in’s, and unnoticed by many.

      Heck, I wasn’t even aware of those building’s to any degree, until Dan began shedding some light on them, here on his blog.

      And, I was born and raised in Westport … so, what does that say about awareness of these hidden gems in our community, that it wasn’t made apparent to so many of us natives, for decades?)

  32. It is beyond my comprehension and quite alarming why the
    P & Z would have a negative response to this proposal. This is a win-win for everyone. It utilizes Golden Shadows a historic property for 21-century use. The proposal keeps all the buildings together, is being used by a positive Westport resource, and last promotes the arts. Golden Shadows has been neglected for too long. This is a wonderful solution for our community.

  33. I hope the Arts Center is heartened by the public response and will use the feedback from the public and the P&Z to craft a specific plan that can work for all involved. The concept itself is visionary. And importantly, because the Arts Center will open the historic house to the public, I see it as a use that is compatible in spirit with the open space surrounding it.

  34. Lisa Podurgiel

    This is absolutely brilliant idea. I hope that a compromise can be found where the P&Z’s mission to uphold the zoning law for passive recreational open space—a law that so many fought hard to enact–can be amended slightly for WAC (and for WAC, only) to make this exciting new vision for Baron’s South become a reality.

  35. I do hope there is a way to find a middle ground that would allow the WAC to utilize these structures. Structures that remain unused die a slow death. This is a good fit and a respectful hamonious use of Barron’s South.

  36. Louise W Demakis

    As a former member of the Zoning Board of Appeals and Historic District Commission and a thirty-three-year resident, who now lives in Southport, I cannot imagine why the P&Z did not jump up and down with JOY that, at last, there was a group willing to do something about “The Baron’s South.” These buildings and the land surrounding them are the inheritance of the people of Westport–even those who don’t live there anymore–and the Westport Arts Center can be relied on to protect that posterity. Let’s hope the P&Z will read our comments and change their minds.

  37. How many of you remember when WAC was leased the Greens Farms School which was empty because of a declining school population? WAC turned it into a gem of a facility, with artists’ studios, exhibit space, classrooms for art lessons, and a theatre for concerts and stage productions, at a great expense to them. When the Town reclaimed the school, WAC was reimbursed for their expenditures for the renovations, but the concept was damaged. The resident artists no longer had their studios; the Theatre Arts Workshop had to relocate to Norwalk; classes were no longer given, etc. Using the Golden Shadows complex would allow WAC to fulfill their original concept — that of providing a wonderful Arts Center to the town that was once called an Artists’ Colony. I am astounded that the P&Z is so blind as to ignore it.

  38. Wow, I am glad there is a history of re-use as in the Greens Farm School.
    Perhaps the answer is in what was learned from that, so those incredible buildings can be put to use by the art community and still keep it all green open space.

  39. One of my favorite museums is The Natural History Museum in Salt Lake City. It’s built into the foothills— a beauty within a beauty!
    This seems like such a fine exchange between the arts created today, being illuminated in the arts of last century, and in the beauty of nature.
    Just imagine one less tree being cut down!
    Gentrification done well is so endearing— i’m thinking of two fabulous restaurants that inhabit The Town Hall, Rothbard and Ale and Jesup Hall. A seamless and intriguing utilization of Westport history!

  40. Larry Weisman

    This is just the latest of many examples of a P&Z which is so hidebound, doctrinaire and committed to a policy of resistance to change that it can’t recognize a sensible and creative opportunity when one is presented. They are doing a terrible and long-lasting disservice to the town.

  41. Save Westport Now heartily supports the proposal for The Westport Arts Center to inhabit Golden Shadows and the buildings at Baron’s South. This wonderful and inspired plan builds upon Westport’s rich traditions of celebrating and supporting the arts, and offers the promise of even greater cultural enrichment for our community long into the future.

    We applaud the concept for its many merits, including that it preserves and adaptively re-uses such storied and iconic structures, and brings the grounds of this special property – which the Planning and Zoning Commission, in its wisdom, have preserved as dedicated open space – to life, inviting members of our community to use and enjoy the them.

    We acknowledge concerns expressed by some members of the Planning and Zoning Commission with respect to overly intense uses of the property, yet we are abundantly confident that the merits of this visionary proposal can – and will – lead to those concerns being thoughtfully addressed and resolved.

    Ian E. Warburg
    Co-Chair Save Westport Now

  42. Paul Einarsen

    We were completely unaware of the WAC initiative when we arrived late at the Town Hall meeting, which made P&Z’s frosty dismissal of the WAC plan so unbelievable. You would have thought a developer was presenting plans for a 50-unit, high density development, so quickly was it dismissed. If these are the same people who signed off on the Bedford Square commercial redevelopment, then surely they could show some interest in a proposal that enriches the cultural heritage of our community.

    In my experience, most thriving greenspaces are anchored by a cultural or environmental centerpiece that serves to get people involved and connected. These places tend to be better cared for and treasured by the community than those that don’t. Having WAC present on the grounds as that centerpiece would be appropriate and beneficial to the Town of Westport in many ways. It also makes a statement about our community commitment to creativity and the arts; an act consistent with our development of The Levitt Pavillion, The Westport Library, and the Westport School system.

    And if, of all options, Westport Arts Center does not meet P&Z’s vision for the property, then what does? It’s hard to imagine that the building and grounds maintenance won’t become a discretionary budget line item in time. That the buildings will be deemed unsafe and forever off-limits without proper attention. It can’t be set aside forever. I would like to know what scenario would satisfy P&Z, if any, to thoughtfully incorporate the property into our community for the enrichment of us all.

  43. This is a wonderful idea! I would love to see these buildings used for the community. I would love to have a public studio space that I could use/rent to work in.

    If good urban planning is initiated correctly, P&Z would have its concerns about public space and use addressed. I think, as a community, we could support this agenda.

  44. Matthew Levine

    This fantastic plan will restore the heart and soul of Westport as a destination for the arts. I am sure there can be a solution that preserves the integrity of the “light use” designation. Let’s find it and get this project going.

  45. I suppose this is a case of you get what you voted for. 6 of the 7 members are endorsed by Save Westport Now. Pity they can’t be open to good ideas. It is never as black and white as it seems but the tin ear of the commission is a rerun that is getting old.

    • Elizabeth Thibault

      Interesting, since we see a comment above from Save Westport Now endorsing this use. Are you saying this isn’t their actual stance, or are you upset they aren’t marching in lockstep, or something else?

  46. Robert Mitchell

    The P&Z meeting was dismaying, not only for their position, but for the attitude presented by the members. Baron’s South is a sadly misused Town resource and to continue to let the land provide no benefit to the residents of Westport and the buildings deteriorate is negligence on all our parts. The Arts Center proposal resolves both issues and deserves due consideration. The Committee provided no suggestions of alternatives, just the conviction that doing nothing is the best answer, thank you very much.
    Fortunately this was a pre-application process, so the idea is far from dead. Thanks to everyone for the outpouring of support demonstrated in this Comments posting.

  47. I have removed comments by “Jennifer Fremont.” She violated “06880” rules by not using a real name. A reminder: We want your comments, pro and con. But all commenters must use full, real and verifiable names. Thank you.

  48. Martha Constable

    This is a win-win-win proposal for the town: a financial win for taxpayers if the WAC leases the property, an aesthetic/preservation win for these lovely buildings (and who better to sensitively restore them then an arts organization? ), and a much-needed addition to Westport’s arts scene with expanded offerings of educational and studio space. A brilliant idea. Please, P&Z, this would be a benefit to all Westport!

  49. Bob Fatherley

    Golden Shadows….a glorious past and the prospect of a brilliant future.
    We support the idea 100 percent. Bob and Julie Fatherley

  50. Wow! How encouraging to see so many positive comments about this amazing proposal. My husband and I moved here 25 years ago because it was an artists community. I have been a member, artist and advocate of WAC for many years. They work hard to enrich the community through the arts and would bring life to the neglected yet beautiful Baron’s South property. The Westport Arts Center is a non-profit and their main goal would be to revitalize the property while sharing the artistic spirit with the entire town. I hope with some reworking of the initial proposal, the P&Z will strongly reconsider.

  51. Elaine Marino

    Can Golden Shadows be accessed from behind the Senior Center? I am thinking that that the current Senior Center parking lot could be expanded to allow more cars, and residents could walk over to Golden Shadows. Is this at all feasible?

  52. This is indeed a first – 64 out of 65 comments saying the same thing?!?!? In Westport, where you usually find more opinions than people. very interesting….

  53. Mike Calise didn’t give a rousing endorsement… it is a bit shocking to me to see almost unanimous support.

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