Stephen B. Rowley / One last light
Sometimes in life, a light goes on and a treasure is bestowed on a person, a family or a community.
Dark times are approaching for the Mead Park brick barn as the town is about to tear it down. Why?
For just the cost to tear it down, it could be visually restored so that it could stay perhaps until a new town government could make a better decision about its use. This is what could be done: Remove the external stair (not part of the original building) and build a replacement inside; clean the brick facade; paint the doors, windows and trim, including the roof fascia; plant a few shrubs around the base. Now you have a building that is not an eyesore to the surrounding community -- all for $75,000. The state may even pay for this since the building is on the National Historic Register. Think of the possible uses for this building:
1. It could be a warming hut for wintertime ice skaters. I well remember walking a mile to the wonderful skating pond in Larchmont, N.Y., during my elementary school years. I particularly remember one venture when it was so cold that I could not unlace my skates and I walked that mile, skates on, all the way home. Of course, we had sidewalks. A warming hut would have been great.
Memories also go back to skating parties as a teenager in East Greenwich, R.I., and later taking my kids to Mead Park in the '70s and '80s.
2. What a wonderful spot for a meeting place for a garden club or an artists' group. You often see plein air painting classes from the Silvermine Guild in the park.
3. Perhaps the New Canaan Nature Center could use the barn for nature classes; kids love water.
4. It might be a sculpture studio or museum.
5. How about a meeting place for bicycling groups? Even the Senior Men's Club of New Canaan has a bicycle group.
I've only touched the surface of all of the possibilities, but with a little time a user could be found for this building, including the town of New Canaan, if it had the wisdom and foresight to wait a little longer. Especially since funds may be available form the state to do a more substantial restoration.
Finally, I would offer my services to do any architectural work for the future use of this strong little building that has lasted and has been a part of our heritage for more than a century.
I hope the light goes on before it fades into darkness.
Editor's note: The Board of Selectmen Tuesday postponed the demolition after deciding that the bids received were too costly.