Says Milford does not respect its history

To the Editor:

It would seem that Milford, for all its Colonial charm, has a history of not respecting history.

In just a few short years we have witnessed the demolition of the historic Merwin/Cadley House, with a subsequent "restoration" that is nothing of the kind. Prospect Street and its historic homes and pre-Colonial cemetery have been sullied by an overscale and inappropriate apartment complex.

Now the Sanford/Bristol House, which sits in the very heart of Milford's Historic District, and which was constructed when George Washington was

President of the United States, has been slated for demolition.

This demolition was sanctioned by the Historic District, no less.

The primary goal of a local historic district is to identify, protect and enhance historic resources and to maintain the underlying character of a neighborhood. The Historic Commission's vote sets a very dangerous precedent. Once the integrity of the district is compromised property values have been proven to suffer, and the whole point of designating a district "historic" is meaningless.

The current owner, former officer of the Milford Historical Society and a savvy businessman, pled guilty to being "naïve" and "overly enthusiastic" about restoring the home. Both structural engineers admitted that their survey was "cursory.”

An engineer specializing in the restoration of historic homes may have had a very different assessment; inspectors and engineers are certainly privy to the homeowner's ultimate goal.

Yet many resources can be brought to bear for the diligent homeowner intent on restoring an historic home. Tax credits are available through various trusts and agencies and building codes are greatly modified to accommodate restoration.

The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation has a lengthy list of structural engineers and builders who specialize in this endeavor.

Only one per cent of Milford's single family homes are in the two local historic districts. Is it unreasonable to expect that people who purchase such homes should commit to preserving them?

Michele Chesson Kramer