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I write in support of the Carlson Landing project before the Essex Zoning Commission. The proposal is for a new building to house offices for Essex Boat Works and an ancillary 59-seat restaurant. The developers are Diane Gregory and Rick Carlson, longtime Essex residents.
At the May 15 Zoning Commission meeting, it appeared the Connecticut River Museum put forth the only objections. Downtown merchants and local residents overwhelmingly spoke in support. The museum representatives objected to a restaurant having a liquor license within 200 yards of their facility because the museum already had one for special events. Since a second license wouldn’t jeopardize or limit the museum’s, I’m at a loss to understand the objection. The museum raised concerns about traffic jams and parking. Traffic jams? Unless four cars moving simultaneously on Main Street is their definition of a traffic jam, that objection makes no sense. Too much traffic is not the problem downtown. And parking? When the museum holds fundraising events, all their guests find parking, despite insufficient parking spaces on the museum’s own site.
I’m disappointed in the museum because its objections seem small minded, self-serving, and obfuscatory, hiding whatever its real concerns might be—removal of a private stairway connecting two parts of the museum’s campus and having to use the public sidewalk? We’ve had enough of that kind of specious thinking at the national level recently, and I would hope we can do better, as neighbors, at the local level.
I call on the museum to rethink its objections, and I call on all residents to join in support of a project that will enhance our downtown for the restaurants, local merchants, residents, and visitors.
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