WETHERSFIELD - A newly-formed ad hoc committee focused on reviewing the Town of Wethersfield’s 50-year lease with the local Historical Society for the Deming-Standish House, the home of Lucky Lou’s Bar and Grille, has decided to seek Town Council support.
The committee, chaired by Town Councilor Stathis Manousos, will ask for recognition as an ad hoc Town Council Committee when the Council meets again July 21. As just an ad hoc committee, the group--consisting of Democratic, Republican and Independent town residents that bring both legal and Historic District Commission experience--would be able to meet and discuss the matter, but would not have access to town government resources in doing so, although Manousos said that this was not the reason for petitioning for Council designation.
“It’s more, I think, for perception,” Manousos said. The reality is, the documents the committee needs are really pubic information, so there aren’t really any town resources that we would need. If it’s not granted, it won’t affect what we do, but it would be nice to have full support from the Council.”
When Manousos first announced the formation of the committee at the May 5 Council meeting, he decided that the group would proceed as just an ad hoc body after a lengthy discussion with Mayor Paul Montinieri and other councilors, but did imply that they may come back to ask for Council recognition.
“To some extent it does give us a little more autonomy,” Manousos said of being just an ad hoc committee. “It allows us to include more members of the public than a Town Council committee.”
When Manousos said that when he makes his request at the next meeting, he will ask that the Council allow the committee’s current membership to remain intact.
The discussion regarding the town’s lease with the Historical Society began several months ago when the Council approved an application for STEAP grants in order to perform work on town properties, including the Standish House. In raising the issue, Manousos said that the Council should consider whether or not it is beneficial for the town to own the building when it is not used by the Historical Society as a historical landmark and costs taxpayers for maintenance. At the time, he suggested that the Council consider selling the property, but has said that the committee intends to look at every option.
Candace Holmes, president of the Governing Board of the Historical Society, and Lee Standish, the great grandson of property heir Jared Butler Standish both expressed in a later meeting opposition to any move to sell the property, saying that it still has historical value and should not be put into private hands.
The Standish House was offered to the Town of Wethersfield in 1929, under the terms that the town would maintain “the rare setting and appearance of a most typical New England village,” according to Holmes.
The committee’s goals will be to find a way to reduce the cost of the town’s ownership of the building, while continuing to maintain it and “preserve Historical Society funding,” Manousos said.