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.”