LETTER: Save the First Church Congregational North Roof
Published 10:02 am, Tuesday, July 5, 2016
To the Editor:
I believe that I, along with a vast majority of Fairfield property owners, that the Fairfield Historic Commission has gone off its rails in insisting that the north roof of the First Church Congregational be natural red slate instead of the installed synthetic red slate. As a result I respectfully request that the Commission declare that the synthetic red slate is not inappropriate as a replacement material because it is not an inappropriate substitute for natural slate, and because the North roof is outside the jurisdiction of the regulations.
1. The north roof is not naturally viewed as a part of the east
elevation of the building as seen from Beach Road. You cannot see it.
The only way you can compare the south and north roofs is from the air.
In contrast the south roof facing the Old Post RD is a distinct component of the South elevation. The regulations affect the components of a building in the elevation as viewed from the corresponding street.
2. The First Church Congregational did its best in 2007 to salvage as
much or the old red slate tiles and in fact was able to sheath the entire south roof with the original materials.
3. The selection of the synthetic tiles for the north roof was an
excellent architectural decision and not inappropriate because they are a very close match to the original slate, and that even slate deteriorates over time due to water, sunshine, heat and ice. The synthetic tiles may be a much better choice from a durability and maintenance standpoint.
4. The north roof does not appear to be materially different to the
casual as well as expert eye from any typical viewing distance. The Fairfield Historic Commission may not realize that the intent of Historic District regulations are to preserve the appearance of the buildings and the surrounding streetscapes and were not intended to require the use of duplicate replacement materials into perpetuity.
5. The Fairfield Historic Commission has both regulatory as well as a
legislative authority and it seems that the commission can in its power further refine and revise its regulation to incorporate what is 100 percent going to happen over a long period on the timeline. That is that materials and the art needed to maintain and or restore our historic buildings may become extinct or terribly expensive and that alternative and reasonable solutions have to be considered. Every Commission member has to become tuned to this reality.
Beyond the five items in this list, I am disturbed by the authoritarian behavior of the Commission and its lack of reasonable accommodation.
The First Church Congregational is a fabulous community resource and I believe all of Fairfield would prefer, all things considered, that the North roof of the church be permitted as is, declared outside of the Historic District Commissions jurisdiction by reason of elevation, and that a facsimile synthetic material as now installed is not an inappropriate material.