Zoning meeting on YMCA expansion draws numerous residents concerned about the Olney House

By Rob Glidden Staff Writer

A Planning & Zoning Commission public hearing about the YMCA’s proposed expansion drew numerous residents concerned about the fate of a nearby historic house.

The expansion includes additions on two sides of the YMCA’s main building and an increase of about 30 parking spaces. While preparing for the project, the YMCA purchased numerous adjacent properties on High Street and North Main Street, including the site of the Andrews/Olney House. When news broke that the YMCA planned to demolish the building, several historical organizations objected and the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation successfully filed a court injunction to keep the house from being knocked down.

While discussing the details of the expansion, Steve Guidice, representing the YMCA, introduced two potential plans. If the YMCA had to build around the Olney House, it would reduce their planned additional parking by 12 spaces.

Several speakers gave detailed comments on the house’s historical value and its connection to famous Southington residents.

For the time being, zoning board members have to wait until the court makes a decision on the house’s fate before their conclusion about the matter has any authority.

The commission tabled their decision on the YMCA proposal, although this was not due to the Olney House controversy. Commissioner Kevin Conroy had numerous questions and concerns about how the current plan would impact traffic on North Main Street. Guidice requested that the hearing be left open so that he and the YMCA officials could address those issues.

The proposal will go before the commission again at its January 2 meeting. YMCA Executive Director John Myers said there had been progress on the Olney House issue, but the organization was concerned about the ongoing uncertainty regarding the plans and timing of the project.

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