Exponent Editorial, Thursday, March 11, 1999
Weston officials moving forward in keeping history
Weston City Council recently approved first reading
of an ordinance that would help preserve the city's past; we hope council
members will follow through and pass the ordinance.
The ordinance would give the city's Historic Landmarks
Commission more say in the development of the downtown. Essentially, it
would give its members the power to approve (or reject) any renovations
proposed for the city's existing buildings.
The purpose of the ordinance is to obviously keep
the historical integrity of downtown Weston intact as much as possible.
Drastic, modern changes to century-old buildings would likely be frowned
upon, as would the construction of newer buildings in historical areas.
An example of the latter was cited by commission
members Bill Adler and Joyce Stalnaker. They noted that the giant G.C.
Murphy building in the downtown area simply looks out of place among the
older styles of architecture.
The passage of such an ordinance isn't an attempt
to gum up the proverbial wheels of progress. After all, it only applies
to those buildings deemed to be of historical significance. As pointed
out by Adler, "It's not our intention to stand in the way of economic progress."
And preserving a community's history, especially when it's evident in buildings
that are still standing Ñ is a pretty important thing. That's particularly
true for the city of Weston, which has more than its share of historic
The former Weston State Hospital, our state's first
hospital for the mentally ill, is nearly 140 years old and represents the
largest hand-cut stone building in the country. The Citizens Bank is reportedly
the tallest one-story building in the nation. The library was originally
a mansion. And the list goes on.
There's not much need to preach about the importance
of preserving the past; most of us are well aware of its significance.
Suffice it to say that Weston deserves recognition for its own efforts
to keep its history alive.
Today's editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial
board, which includes William J. Sedivy, John G. Miller, Julie R. Cryser,
James Logue, Kevin Courtney and Cecil Jarvis.
Telegram Editorial, Thursday, March 11, 1999
Weston citizens must not keep shouldering weight of
City of Weston officials show no apparent signs of
complying with Secretary of State Ken Hechler's request for a reason why
residents were not allowed to vote on municipal fee raises. To us, that
is a brazen rebuff of a reasonable appeal.
The citizens of Weston have been overburdened as it is with municipal
taxes and fees without once again having to take it on the chin for a lapse
of business sense on the part of past city officials.
When one group of city residents expressed concerns
about the quadrupling of the municipal fee to Hechler's office (their petition
to the city in 1998 was disregarded by council) Hechler himself wanted
to know why. He asked for a response by February 12. That day passed with
Weston City Attorney Christy Smith said the matter
had been turned over to the state attorney general's office personnel.
She added that she would provide them with the information as soon as possible,
claiming she had "better information as to what they need to look at."
We cannot see a valid reason why the city will not
allow a vote on the fee increase. Of 1,026 signatures, 822 were registered
Weston voters. Do the math. Eighty percent is far greater than the 30 percent
required for a public vote on an issue.
Is it simply stalling tactics? One Weston councilman
claimed that although the people are verified to be Weston voters, their
signatures are not verified, and that is currently the holdup.
But even if the signatures are verified Ñ
the attorney general's office is working to do just that Ñ will
Weston officials devise yet another obstacle? The city attorney insists
there is still "plenty of time" for the state to decide on whether the
issue can be put to a vote.
The Weston election will be in June. It is nearly
mid-March. How can city officials believe there is still plenty of time
for the state to reach a decision when it has been nearly a year? Residents
submitted the signatures on April 20, 1998, to council. And council promptly
rejected the petition, questioning the validity of the signatures.
We must agree with Weston resident Frank Monnett,
who said, "It's up to the people. It's not up to council." And we feel
he was right when he said the city could have prevented the trouble by
letting the people vote before quadrupling the fee.
It is true that the City of Weston has its financial
troubles. It has a $75,000 deficit and a spending freeze in effect. And
its officials no doubt are doing what they believe is right for the city.
But the "cash cow" has been milked dry. The city must consider other options.
Robert F. Stealey
Telegram Editorial Board chairman