Thursday, May 30, 2024

Letter To The Editor

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Tom Yemm
Stratford

While I appreciated Tucker Chase’s thoughtful comments, I don’t know if I agree that there is currently some savior out there with both the vision and the backing to accomplish anything besides heartbreak. How many White Knights have appeared on this stage in the past twenty-five years? And now we have the White Box…it’s really so ridiculous.

Prove me wrong: the current iteration of Stratford town government is not up to the task of moving forward with the Shakespeare Park property. The best choice is to leave it as it is for now, until after a legitimate and truly public reflection period and then a truly open-ended discussion can and really does take place.  Most residents are focused on other concerns, and those who most miss what once was on the Theater property would rather not face a Hobson’s choice between black-box and white-box monstrosities of industrial design.

Today’s plans mirror the debacle of the Center School property on East Broadway, where two travesties of common sense vied for public “approval” by a rubber-stamp Town Council, after a top-down process that ignored neighborhood objections. What’s been lost in that transfer of wealth from public to private hands is, first, an elementary school, second, a lot of open space, and third, a desperately-needed amenity complete with playground, ball-courts and fields. Do we really want to repeat this error? If we don’t, we have but few days and few ways to make our views known once more.

Stratford is not the former Soviet Union; we don’t have to live like this, where public property is “given” away for private exploitation and real decisions are made out of sight. The stewardship of Shakespeare’s bones so far are observably shoddy: walk around on the footprint of the grand theater building sacrificed to “disengaged” high-school arsonists–the hallowed ground is now filled in with poorly-sourced, stony soil, into which are inscribed the doughnut car-tracks of this current decade’s vandals, oblivious to seemingly non-existent security. Any vision for the future of this land should begin with conserving and protecting what remains, existing historic structures and trees’, not more high-priced renderings.

Something good can come to the Shakespeare site, but not right now, not in this season of discontent. While Town Hall appears hot to trot with the promised $3 million from Hartford, free money, as is well known here, is always fun to play with. Consider how those modest resources could be relatively easily invested in restoring the former Theater’s costume museum building, currently moldering near the entrance, with necessary ADA-compliant bathrooms, administration facilities, and some water, sewer & electrical/data infrastructure necessary for any future project. That alone would surely make good use of the state bonding money grant and might even require no funding from a town budget that apparently cannot even maintain an adequate education.

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