Tivoli's new construction in New Milford has awakened one of the Town's most destructive, checkered and costly pieces of its past. Charlie Raymond's letter in last week's Spectrum was appalling. How dare he criticize the Zoning Commission when he and his cronies did so little to help guide the Town into the 21st Century and did so much to stymie the Town's progress?
I'll never forget the very first Meeting that I attended in New Milford. It was at a Meeting of the Zoning Commission that I saw then Chairman George Doring -- leaning back in his chair, hands clasped behind his head in his typical manner -- belittle a female applicant in his soft-spoken, quiet fashion to the point that she later cried in the hallway. It was there that I saw Charlie Raymond at his flank, joining in the fray and clearly enjoying his exercise of power. It was there that I saw Larry Greenspan, perhaps somewhat oblivious to the subtlety of what was happening, but nevertheless a participant in the negativity. So this was my first exposure to New Milford government, nasty to its taxpayers. As time passed, these three repeatedly said "NO!" to just about every application that seemed to make sense for a growing Town. A Town that was watching huge changes take place in the world around it and refused to step up and take positive, progressive steps to prepare for its future. The "Say No!" attitude of these three and their wholesale zoning ignorance cost the Town millions of dollars in lost opportunities and we are still suffering from their poor decisions.
Today, Charlie Raymond attacks the Zoning Commission of which he was once an unfortunate part. With regard to Tivoli's new construction, he wrote in his letter that the Commission "Has failed the Town dismally." No, Charlie. It was YOU that failed the Town miserably. It was YOU that made its job today so difficult. It was YOU that left the Commission the arduous task of struggling with the results of the opportunities that YOU gleefully rejected. It was YOU that said no to major retailers and other development on Route 7. The Members of our Zoning Commission work hard at their volunteer job and are doing service for the right reason.
The fact that Charlie Raymond makes comments about the Tivoli atrium before it's finished speaks volumes about the man. Here's the analysis: attacks, jumps to conclusions, pre-judges. Just like he did on the Zoning Commission!
Let's put the Atrium debate into perspective.
The Zoning Commission seeks advice from the New Milford Trust for Historic Preservation on all Village Center applications. The voice of the Trust is Pat Greenspan. My friend Tom Pilla, the former owner of the Tivoli building and corner lot, said, "Pat's knowledge of the Downtown has been invaluable to the Commission." Tivoli's Application for the Atrium received her approval as did many improvements to the building that houses the restaurant. Tommy received a Citation from the Trust for the many improvements that he made to the building during his two decades of ownership.
Once upon a time, the lot on which the Atrium is being built was occupied by a Mobil gas station, replete with a 40-foot revolving sign. After years of being boarded up and unsightly, its removal -- both gas station and sign -- were hailed by the Zoning Commission. This was followed by years of environmental reclamation to enhance groundwater quality. "Now after all this we have a debate about this Atrium," Tommy said.
The owners of Tivoli's have created a very successful business in Town. The restaurant is full every night, especially the patio. It is tastefully decorated and, as a resident said, "Tivoli's brings some class to the Town. It's not collecting garbage and it's well maintained. Sometimes I wonder if people are resentful of success."
I say give Tivoli's a chance. Wait until the Atrium is finished before making a judgment. To Mr. Raymond, I say, stay in Roxbury and stay out of our hair. We don't need your comments.