The Tolland Historical Society is joining with the Tolland Historic District Commission in opposing a plan to install a cement sidewalk on the historic Town Green.
The society is encouraging residents to attend an Aug. 22 public hearing to speak out against the plan. The hearing is being held at 7 p.m. at the Hicks Municipal Center or on Zoom. Tolland residents who can’t attend the meeting can also email their comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The historically registered Tolland Green was made ADA-accessible during the Route 195 road project, with eight access points. The society supports the full historic experience for all citizens by utilizing these access points to our registered green. The society supports the Historic District Commission in its duly appointed role as stewards, charged to “preserve and protect the distinctive characteristics and appearance of the Tolland Green and the buildings which surround it white respecting the rights and wishes of those who own property within the district…and be administered with common sense.”
The society further supports the maintenance of the existing sidewalks around the perimeter of the Green by leveling and edging stones and repairing the buckled cement. It also supports the use of a temporary mesh sidewalk during events on the green, which the town has already purchased and used successfully for several events.
Facts sheets about the proposed project will be available this Sunday, Aug. 20 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Old Tolland County Jail and Museum at 52 Tolland Green and the Old Tolland County Court House Museum at 53 Tolland Green.
For more information, contact society President Kathy Bach at 860-872-7716.
PUBLIC HEARING: TUESDAY, 8/22, 7 PM
HICKS MUNICIPAL CENTER
OR ZOOM INTO MEETING
OR EMAIL your comments to:
(*and ask that your comments be read in to the public record)
The Green was the center for early founders, militia exercises, sending our soldiers to war and bringing them home again however they returned. It was the hub for town services before the great sleep in the mid 1800s where the doctors, lawyers, clergyman, blacksmith, innkeepers and shopkeepers were in charge. It was the great turnpike crossroad from New York City to Boston and Springfield to the coast. Later it was a summer destination, then a residential neighborhood still a hub, but now for war rationing and the plane spotters and the air raid center. There were weddings, funerals, and annual homecomings on the Green. Today this quarter mile of registered historic land is our center and the envy of many CT communities and historical groups because Tolland knew and understood its value then and now. This quarter mile long slice of land has breathed with life for 300+ years of Tolland history (longer than any of the aforementioned sites). It is not a ‘thing’; it is the essence of our town. It mourns in our struggles and rejoices in our triumphs. It is our constant in a constantly changing world. It’s 300 years of our people’s story.
“It is the purpose of the Tolland Green Historic District to preserve and protect the distinctive characteristics and appearance of the Tolland Green and the buildings which surround it while respecting the rights and wishes of those who own property within the district. It is the intent of this chapter that the requirements set forth herein be construed with these purposes in mind and be administered with common sense.”
1. The Green is a registered historic site within a registered historic district; at the town, state and federal level, with a Historic District Commission (HDC) that was voted in place by townspeople and duly appointed by the town council. The HDC has statutory responsibilities to protect this historic landmark.
2. According to state statutes and federal guidelines the town planned sidewalk is considered a “structure” and is clearly in the realm of responsibility of the HDC.
3. The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) has stated that a sidewalk would constitute a structure on the historic Green. As of 8/7/2023; the Town Attorney has rendered an opinion that a sidewalk is not a structure using a different statute to defend his decision.
4. The issue of ADA accessibility and accommodation was addressed with the RT195 road project when 8 access points were added to the Green, exceeding the ADA requirements for access AND allowing all persons to enjoy the essence of the historic Green, to enjoy the historic experience unencumbered, also part of the ADA requirement. A moveable mesh walkway is laid during the season at minimal cost and removed each winter.
5. With a municipal sidewalk, the Green will no longer meet the historic definition of an 18-19th Century Green befitting the neighborhood or the historic registration that the town and the neighbors received. Three recent grant applications by the historical society have been negatively impacted financially by the news of this proposal because it shows a lack of respect for the integrity of the historic registration by the local government.
6. Yes, the TC can put a municipal sidewalk anywhere it wants according to one statute, but this is not just any public land, and their reasoning lacks basic common sense. A fixed walk (rather than the current movable mesh) will interfere with current town-wide programs (Farmer’s Market, Holiday Tree Lighting, Harvest Fest, and Memorial Day Parade, Prom Night photos, Lion’s Club Pancake Breakfasts, TFD Torch Light Parade) which are located in various locations on the Green.
Tolland is fortunate to have a registered historic landmark where everyone can enjoy the same historic experience. Please join with other historic organizations & neighbors to protect this sliver of hallowed ground, the essence of Tolland. Thank you.
MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD
Sponsored and paid for by the Tolland Green Historic District Commission & Tolland Historical Society