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Richmond Hill Barn Escapes the Wrecking Ball For Now (Again)

Demolition bids far exceed the town's budget.

For the second time in seven months, at 64 Richmond Hill Road, has been given a reprieve.  The building, which has been at the center of a battle for its demolition — or preservation — was granted a stay by the Tuesday morning, when demolition bids were deemed too high.

Tiger Mann, assistant director of told the Selectmen that he had received only two bids for the building’s demolition. The low bid was $135,000 and the second bid was for $426,000.

“We only have $18,733,” Mann said. “We’re at a standstill now.”

The Selectmen tabled the discussion while they review options for the 800 square foot building that sits on the northern edge of . 

 Mann told the Selectmen he had explored the possibility of simply removing the exterior staircase and leaving the building after he received the bids.

“Removing the staircase, would that be for aesthetic reasons?” Selectman Sally Hines asked.

“Yes. For aesthetic reasons. We’d just leave the building,” Mann replied.

Mann said removing the staircase would require sandblasting lead paint from the brick wall to which the exterior structure is attached. TRC estimates it would cost between $20,000 and $50,000 to remove the staircase, which provides the only access to the building’s second floor.

Robin Beckett, a founder of Friends of Mead Park Brick Barn, a preservation group that is spearheading the effort to save the building from demolition, applauded the Selectmen’s decision to table a vote.

“This is a good outcome,” she told Patch. “The town has chosen not to spend money, so it gives us an opportunity instead of to destroy, to invest. That’s the conversation we heard among the Selectmen today.”

Beckett said she was on the phone with representatives from the state late Tuesday morning, exploring funding options for restoring the building. 

“It’s municipally owned, it’s on the , it’s a barn and it’s located in a former industrial area,” she said. “All those reasons give it access to different pools of money.”

Gregory A. Smith, a resident who lives near the brick building, said he and others who would like to see the building demolished would have to regroup.

“It’s back to the drawing  board,” he said. “The unfortunate thing is its location. If it was inside the park it would have more appeal. Given where it’s located in a residential neighborhood, it becomes a real issue.”

According to historical records, the building was built in 1901 by Standard Oil to house horses that delivered oil to residents of New Canaan. After trucks replaced horse-drawn carts, it was given to the town, which has used it to store DPW equipment and materials. In 2005, the voted to demolish the building.

When the town posted a demolition notice on the building in August 2010, Friends of Mead Park was formed. In October, the little building was given its , when the low bidder withdrew just before the Selectmen were scheduled to vote on the bid.

Tuesday morning’s decision does not reflect a change of heart about the building’s fate, but was a matter of money.

“It was a financially based decision,” Beckett said. “What I particularly liked was the willingness to consider options. And that is all very good. Not every building needs to be kept. But we need to understand when we are destroying a heritage asset.”

Four Jacks April 26, 2011 at 06:54 PM
I would love to know if the building existed when Mr. Smith purchased his home? You cannot buy a home "hoping" a building will be destroyed so your view will be improved.
Gregory A Smith April 26, 2011 at 07:40 PM
Lucy, My home is much older than the garage, and yes the building was there, and has absolutely nothing to do with home values in the neighborhood. Why don't you address your thoughts to the home owners directly accross from the building?
Four Jacks April 26, 2011 at 09:33 PM
Yes, but did you "buy" the home when the building was there? If so, you should have known better. Why did people buy homes across the street from a building they did not like? I would not do that. I have bypassed home purchases because I didn't like the way the neighbors kept their premises. That's what you do when you buy a house. Real Estate 101 - Location, location, location. Don't buy the house and then complain about what's across the street. I don't care how old YOUR house is, the question I ASKED was "did the building exist when you purchased your home?" Did it? If it was there when you purchased your home, you have no right to complain about it. I hope it STAYS!
Four Jacks April 26, 2011 at 10:50 PM
I live 5 miles from town, the parade does not pass by my house, but I did my due diligence before I bought the house, didn't you?
Alan Breslow April 27, 2011 at 12:53 AM
To answer the questions alluded to above. 1 - A Mr Smith lives on Richmond Hill in a house built in 1850. He took title in 2008. 2 - If you map from downtown to the upper end of Briscoe it is 5 miles. I thought 5 was a big number as well but it is possible. I am glad this wasteful use of money has been delayed. If we all work together on not wasting our tax dollars, maybe we can allocate to better causes.
Four Jacks April 27, 2011 at 01:06 AM
Yes, I do live in NC, on the Wilton line. I have lived in NC since 1995. I think the building is worth saving. Has nothing to do with parades or sidewalks.
Serenity Now! April 27, 2011 at 01:11 AM
Mr. Smith preaches dire economic times and the need to save money when it directly impacts his property. Outside of his property, he is all too glad to spends everyone else's money on the sidewalks. When you looked up his property records, did you happen to notice the discrepancy in assessed values that allowed him to push his tax load onto the rest of us? Sorry Mr. Smith, but if you want to preach, carry your fair tax burden like the rest of us.
andrea nc April 27, 2011 at 01:17 AM
Jeez..... I am getting in late to this argument, but I believe the house that I think Mr. Smith lives in was for sale when I looked at it in 2008. It was on the corner of Grove and Richmond Hill Rd. When I looked at it to purchase the broker told me that the town had already *agreed* to tear down the barn which would leave unobstructed views of the park and the property would be worth more than what owners were asking for the house. Consequently the broker stated that the house would be worth a lot more because in the near future the view of Mead Park would be without the obstruction of the barn. Whatever. The fix was in. The fix is still in. The town will tear down whatever it so desires
Big Willy April 27, 2011 at 01:21 AM
Yet, there are no records for Douglas or Brestow. Hiding behind an alias? Same for you Anthony, I don't set the assessments. For your knowledge. I have lived in NC for over 25 years. My family over a 100. If you have an issue with that, come to my door and tell me in person.
andrea nc April 27, 2011 at 01:24 AM
????
Four Jacks April 27, 2011 at 01:56 AM
And Big Willy is your given name??? Scary.
Four Jacks April 27, 2011 at 02:00 AM
Andrea, good points. Apparently you did not believe the real estate agent's declarations. We've all heard these types of things when buying a house, yet a smart buyer always thinks worst case and what are they willing to live with. A SMART buyer does that.
Alan Breslow April 27, 2011 at 02:02 AM
It is Breslow Mr Willy, and the property records are not in my name, like many properties in town.
Alan Breslow April 27, 2011 at 02:26 AM
Ms Shaker, I do not believe that the Patch is a forum for personal attacks, which Mr Smith has seen fit to post on numerous occasions. He has now escalated his diatribes into threats, a position I find quite deplorable, and may cross over into illegal. Please take appropriate action. Thank you
Alan Breslow April 27, 2011 at 02:49 AM
Mr. Smith, I have no idea what you are speaking of. You have posted numerous times that you live near the barn, the tax records are in the public domain. I have not called you or anyone else names, threatened you, called you spineless or questioned your character. The town took your demolition ball away from you and you have escalated your attacks into threats. That is completely uncalled for.
Elmcrest April 27, 2011 at 03:51 AM
Wow. It seems yet again that "Big Willy" and "Let the Demolition Begin" are nothing but Mr. Smith's alter egos. No one else on Patch sees fit to turn every single discussion into a personal attack. No one else keeps telling everyone else to "man up." No one else says you can only talk about the barn if you live on Richmond Hill, but can meanwhile pontificate about Main Street sidewalks from across town. And finally, when Patch Editor Sheryl Shaker stated that personal attacks would not be tolerated, Mr. Smith's answer was perfect, for a 6-year-old: "Boring," he pouted. Now he's issuing crazy threats, once again derailing discussion among actual adults, who can actually disagree and marshall arguments without throwing name-calling hissy-fits.
Richard Stowe April 27, 2011 at 08:18 PM
The demolition man has been staved off for today. This is good news for the town, the neighborhood, the environment, taxpayer's pocketbooks & the culture, history and preservation of a unique non-conforming asset in our beloved park-scape. In the meantime, a team representing all stakeholders (composed of neighbors, preservationists, town hall outsiders & insiders...) should be put together to remove the unsightly exterior staircase. Eco Man
Big Willy April 28, 2011 at 01:07 AM
Hello Elmcrest.

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