New Milford: Hearing on art gallery’s move to train station Tuesday
Updated 5:36 pm, Monday, January 23, 2017
The town announced plans to move Gallery 25, a gallery near the Village Green run by the town’s Arts Commission, to the railroad station since last summer. Last month the town applied for a building use change from the zoning board, and on Jan. 10 the board decided a public hearing should be held.
Several civic groups who could be displaced by the move have used the station as a meeting place since it became available in the mid-1980s, and a number of them have criticized the town’s plan. Zoning board members said those groups should have their say.
The plan is to convert 1,300 square feet of empty space in the 2,100-square-foot station into gallery space. Abutting police department and Chamber of Commerce offices in the station will remain.
But the majority of the space, managed by the Chamber as a tourist hub when unused, was rented by nonprofit and for-profit civic groups for $20 and $50, respectively. The town has offered other government buildings for impacted groups to use for free, Gronbach has said.
Even with the town’s offers, renting groups have voiced displeasure with the plan. Vendor coalition Local Artists Crafts Group, which has rented the station every Thanksgiving weekend for the past six years, asked the Town Council to scrap the plan last month.
Donald Turner, one of the group’s members, has said a move to a different town-owned building will likely kill his annual event.
“If we can’t do it at the train station, I’m not sure this show will survive,” he has said. No other building has as much foot traffic and visibility as the station, he added.
Several annual functions, including the Christmas hands-on train display, will still be held at the railroad station, said Arts Commission Chairman Diane Dubreuil. Dubreuil has said she plans on working with groups that host artistic or cultural events at the station, and the gallery will be a cultural center — not just a gallery.
Gronbach had planned for the move to be completed by the early February.
The hearing will be downstairs in Town Hall at 7 p.m.
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