Litchfield Courthouse Should Become the New Town Hall
From the beginning First Selectman Leo Paul wanted to build a new town hall. He and his followers on the Board ignored the one-time opportunity to convert the Courthouse, the most iconic building in the center of Litchfield, into a new town hall, one that according to their own study would meet the town's needs now and into the foreseeable future...and one that addressed every single objection that has been raised.
Instead Leo chose to pursue a new structure, one that many deem unattractive and not in keeping with the architecture within the historic district. Why Leo allowed his appointed Town Hall Review Committee (THRC) to embark on a 10 month detailed study to determine the best way to meet Litchfield's current and future town hall needs knowing from the beginning that his objective was to build a new building is troubling at best. Even worse is then ignoring the result of the commissioned study.
The GLPT (Greater Litchfield Preservation Trust) at its own expense and effort acquired the Courthouse for $335,000 with the sole intent of offering it at no cost to the town for use as a town hall. It appears as though Leo viewed this offer as just a bump in the road toward his new building idea.
Why did Leo let this go on for 10 months with regular Town Hall Review Committee updates to him and the Board along the way and then vote to ignore their recommendation? Clearly, he was not waiting to see what the committee would conclude. To Leo the committee was cover and its findings irrelevant.
The GLPT initially asked for certain restrictions on the gift including a reverter and an easement against facade changes in order to protect its historic architecture. Hard to argue against these. But even this was an obstacle so the Trust agreed to remove all restrictions assuming this would clear the way.
But, no, it didn't because it never was going to as long as Leo is in charge. Having come this far Leo needed a reason, an excuse, to vote no on his own Town Hall Review Committee's recommendation knowing that enough of the selectmen would vote as he votes.
It was unsettlingly disingenuous of Leo to say he would have voted for the Courthouse but since the final concession was made earlier that day he would not. For him to say he would have voted for it had this last and unnecessary concession been made earlier is the height of hypocrisy. Litchfield is the loser.