To the Editor:
I was a member of the 19th Charter Revision Commission in Stamford and proud of it!
My family goes back generations in Stamford. My grandparents met at Yale and Towne and made a life here. A few relatives served the city in various positions over the years.
I worked as a nurse for the City of Stamford for 38 years at the Smith House Skilled Nursing facility and became familiar with the city’s union process.
Growing up during Stamford’s urban redevelopment, many of us witnessed the destruction of hundreds of homes and buildings, with hundreds of people being displaced, some having to live in Quonset huts on Magee Avenue.
More recently, I’ve been watching the demolition of many multifamily homes and other buildings in the South End. These homes provided naturally occurring affordable housing and home ownership opportunities for hundreds of people.
In the last 10 years, there has been a complete indifference to the destruction of the South End’s history, including a few attempts to sabotage neighborhood preservation efforts.
Master plan map and text changes have been implemented at a record pace. Converting residential multifamily zones, 2-3 story homes, to residential high density use, which allow high rises up to 25 stories tall, is wide spread. Eminent domain has been commonly used. A once heavy industrial site now is a high rise complex.
Because of this mad building craze, the South End has lost 1/2 of the 449 homes and structures that were designated historic under the Department of the Interior in 1986. The South End National Registered Historic District inventory was created by Stamford’s own Preservation authorities, Renee Kahn, Colin Skidmore and Nils Kerschus.
“Historic district is an area with boundaries enclosing a set of historically or architecturally significant structures that are related through proximity, ownership, history or use and that together visually represent the community’s heritage.”
The South End may not have many pretty homes that you may imagine in a “historic district”, but, what is important is the earliest beginnings of Stamford began here. This was a working class community with every nationality and religion represented. Many families here do not wish to move.
Stamford was founded in 1641. Farming and industry first started the influx of people. The Canals brought schooners into Stamford, bringing immigrants and supplies. Manufacturing began, the Yale & Towne lock factory and the Blickensderfer typewriter factory employed thousands.
The older buildings that remain in the South End go back over 100 years and some respect should be given to Stamford’s history.
Because of this connection I have with Stamford, as resident of the South End for the past 40 years, along with my experience as a regular attendee at Board of Representatives, planning and zoning board meetings, led me to apply for the Charter Revision Commission.
It’s been awesome and rewarding to be part of this group and working with the BOR and other City entities.
Voting YES will provide more public engagement opportunities in all aspects of city government. Every neighborhood needs a voice in the decision making process as further growth takes place.
Halpern is a resident of the South End and a member of the Stamford Charter Revision Commission