New Milford: a gigantic wrought-iron atrium

Downtown New Milford restaurant’s atrium spurs criticism

Nanci G. Hutson

Is it a gigantic wrought-iron birdcage or a fancy European atrium? And does it fit across from the Village Green?

It depends who you ask.

For the past few weeks, a number of town residents have been both vociferous and literary about whether they like or hate the Zoning Commission-approved addition to Tivoli Restaurant on the southeastern corner of Main Street and the Green.

The objections come almost five months after the 12-by-18-foot structure earned unanimous approval for location next to the restaurant’s maroon-canvas-covered outdoor dining area adjacent to its newly redesigned parking lot.

“We did get a significant number of phone calls and emails, more than I’ve seen on any other project since I’ve been here (for six years),” said Zoning Enforcement Officer Laura Regan of the fallout since the structure arrived just before Veterans Day.

It’s been a hot topic in letters to local newspapers, on websites, on Facebook and in Town Hall.

At a Zoning Commission meeting Nov. 22, a few folks on both sides of the issue sounded off to commission members. Some of those against it referred to it as a “birdcage” and said it might be appropriate in Italy but not next to a New England green.

Resident Laraine Selivonchik told the commission the “birdcage” does not complement the downtown’s historic architecture. Rather, she said, it is “an eyesore,” according to meeting minutes.

Bridge Street merchant Stephen Szilagyi testified the atrium/gazebo beats the “dirt lot” that preceded it.

New Milford Trust for Historic Preservation leader Patricia Greenspan said it is a “very complementary addition” to a corner that over a 25-year span had fallen into decay.

For decades, the corner sported a gas station. In the past, Regan said, efforts were made to create architectural regulations for the Green, but they always failed.

Commission Chairman Bill Taylor said the downtown is a conglomeration of architecture, ranging from renovated historic buildings dating back to the 1700s to modern structures.

Many locals have long considered the post office on Main Street an ugly building, he said. “The owner and I apologize for the way the structure looks now, but it’s not finished,” said Barbara Reeve, the restaurant’s general manager.

When completed next spring, the atrium, which now has a decorated Christmas tree inside, will contain four small tables, Reeve said. It will be covered with a canopy that matches the one over the existing dining area and will have a stone base, which is now under construction, she said.

The entire area will be landscaped with trees that will mask the atrium from both Bridge Street and Main Street. “Give us a chance. Once finished, it’s going to be an absolutely beautiful addition to the Green,” Reeve promised.

from newstimes.com

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