The Westport Arts Center is an integral part of our town. It symbolizes the town's history as an artists' haven. But now its muscle has become too pumped. It is now visualizing a giant 10,000-square-foot building near the tip of Jesup Green, a small park saved by earlier efforts to keep a little "green" in the heart of Westport to create open space vs. the town's ongoing intensive development.
I'm all for artists; my mother was an early New Yorker cartoonist. But for the arts center to build a new, giant edifice seems a "commercial" intrusion into the heart of a town so many artists found a retreat for its simplicity, small-town atmosphere and rural environment.
Westport is very lucky to have established zoning and historic districts, a part of its long-range planning. We must not abuse these protections.
A suggestion: Perhaps when our YMCA moves into its giant new building up on the Saugatuck River, the owner of our present Y building in downtown Westport could provide affordable space for WAC in the upstairs rooms, auditorium included. The owner's proposed plan to create retail space in the building would benefit from traffic generated by the Arts Council and bring back community activity now sorely missing from Westport's town center.