Three of the protestors lobbying so hard to save the parish house were the same commissioners who voted to demolish it in March 2018. The Historic Preservation Commission delivered a statement to the town prior to that vote saying they simply didn’t want the land sold if the house was demolished. But past and present members are also participating in recent protests to save it.
If they were so determined to save the parish house, why weren’t they holding televised protests in March 2018? The parish house wasn’t discussed again until February 2019 when the board suddenly reversed their decision and voted to keep it.
But even then…nothing happened.
For a year it was rarely discussed. Bellflowers made a big deal of contacting FTCC and asking them to donate student services for the rehabilitation. But they can’t access the house until the town spends more than $100,000 to stabilize the foundation. And his solution didn’t include funding for the materials we’d need or the general contractors and site plans.
As 2019 ebbed away, the parish house was slipping further into disrepair with no viable solution in sight…and no one was looking for solutions. Until the board asked for estimates to demolish it. Suddenly, it’s a cause. Suddenly, these people are motivated and have a half dozen solutions we might try.
I have nothing against the parish house. But I take issue with their tactics. Pat Hall, the former Chair of the Historic Preservation Commission, sent this email five days ago…
“I thoroughly understand that the employees and departments who submitted the condemnations and histories also work for the very persons who directed such condemnations and I cannot fault them for performing their duties as directed.”
I asked Pat Hall to provide proof of coercion…she hasn’t. Bellflowers asserts in his published letter ‘proof’ supporting everything he and the protestors have said these last few weeks is available in the minutes from the official Historic Preservation Commission meetings. But they’ve only provided minutes dating back to February 2019, and those minutes don’t reflect any conversations about the parish house, or efforts to save it. I submitted a request for earlier minutes on January 6. They haven’t provided any.
This morning, Commissioner Bellflowers violated the Communication Policy adopted by the town for a 4th time when he spoke on a local radio station about the parish house. He began by telling the public the board is plagued with private agendas and personal vendettas, but he didn’t provide proof of this. He also implied the staff purposely misled the board in 2018 when they read the statement, posted above, from the Historic Preservation Commission, and they learned a year later the HPC never intended for the board to demolish the house. But…we know that isn’t true.
Bellflowers also repeatedly asked…”what’s the urgency to tear down the parish house?” In fact, he posed the question five different times. It’s another tactic to make this board look like they’re operating with a private agenda. The previous board, HIS board, voted to demolish the parish house two years ago because it needed more than $220,000 worth of repairs, which the HPC acknowledged on their social media….!
The problem…is there was NEVER a sense of urgency by the HPC. They knowingly and willingly supported the board’s decision to demolish the house right up until they changed their minds. Once the board rescinded the vote, the HPC simply stopped advocating. Instead of using the opportunity as a catalyst to raise funds or research partnerships, they simply did nothing.
Now their followers, cheered on by the same former commissioners who gladly voted to demolish the house, have launched a cyber bully campaign against anyone who disagrees with them or questions them. Instead of simply fundraising and researching options to save the house, the supporters have resorted to terrorism.
I’m curious, how many citizens do you have to bully to save a questionably historic building?