Thursday, October 31, 2013

G. Geoffrey Bray Of Bray Architects Attacks use of Church Conversion use with City Funds

To the Editor:

I was disappointed to learn that the city of New Britain is proposing to allocate approximately $450,000 to renovate the building at 265 West Main St. for mixed use, not only as a place of worship for the Calvary Christian Center but to also house an emergency homeless shelter.

The building, built in the 1920s as a Masonic Temple, has spent most of its life as the Temple B’Nai Israel, and has been on the National Record of Historic Buildings since 1995.

I believe this latest concept to be misguided, if not illegal for a number of reasons:

First, the law of the land addresses the separation of church and state. After the city learned they could not use left-over HUD grant money to fund this project, they are pursuing the use of city bond money and that should also be illegal as government money, whatever the designation, should not be used to fund a religious organization.

Second, the money will not be reused to restore this stately building, but will be used to solve a number of building and fire code issues brought about by its proposed mixed use and change of occupancy. The proposed use as a homeless shelter at the very least should first be reviewed before any construction commences by the City Plan Commission and ZBA as a special exemption use and to the Historic Preservation Commission if ever public funds were allowed to be used; none of those commissions have even been contacted, never mind approvals given or denied.

Third, creating yet another homeless shelter and social service source in an historically significant building and neighborhood abutting Walnut Hill Park is at cross purposes with historic preservation’s mission to stimulate the revitalization of the neighborhoods surrounding the downtown by middle income families, who in turn, after investing hundreds of thousands of dollars to accurately restore homes in the neighborhood within walking distance of downtown, will support downtown businesses & shops, and in turn create a broader more substantial tax base, which in turn could mean lower taxes for us all.

Please be aware that the city of New Britain already houses hundreds of homeless people at a number of facilities; some come with substance abuse issues, others are recently released from incarceration, and still others with mental and/or physical disabilities. Presently there are care facilities at the Friendship Center, Prudence Crandall & Farrell Treatment Center, Salvation Army and scattered throughout the city are others such as the one Alderman Brown and his spouse run, and even CMHA has several such sites.

I would hope we all want to contribute to revitalizing New Britain to be a desirable place to create a home, raise our families, to work and prosper, to enjoy the many wonderful institutions we have in town, and ultimately grow old here and not have to or want to move away.

Let City Hall know we want and need to follow not only the law of the land, but the guidelines and plans already in place to rebuild and restore our city. Let us stop shopping for ways to circumvent these while grabbing for quick-fix solutions that over time are harmful and self-defeating.

G. Geoffrey Bray

Bray Architects

Sent in to me by a Common Council Candidate


Anonymous said...

Like the Obama Administration blaming the difficulty of signing up people for Obamacare on a "technical glitch", the Herald used the same excuse for deterring public comment on Mr. Bray's letter to the editor. What the Herald did was to "accidentally" put a different story under the same title as Mr. Bray's letter, thus, defecting information that showed the absolute stupidity of the O'Brien administration. In addition, the Herald showed how O'Brien will do anything to try to garner votes even if it means breaking local and U.S. Constitutional provisions like, Separation of Church and State principles.

The Herald did not correct its "mistake" until about 1:40 on Wednesday, thus deflecting public comment. For shame.

Anonymous said...

With the way these Democrats are running the city into the ground, you are going to need all the homeless shelters you can build.

Anonymous said...

I believe Central Connecticut Communications, parent corporation of The Herald, is secretly owned by Bertha Lewis and the criminal organization, known as A.C.O.R.N..

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Geoff Bray for taking a necessary stand.

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