Letters: Town should be ashamed ... and more
Town should be ashamed
To the Editor:
An era in Fairfield will soon be coming to a close. In a few weeks several small businesses in the heart of downtown will be forcibly shuttered as Sacred Heart University takes over the former Community Theater space to revamp it into a new performance venue for the University. While the idea of revitalizing an old historic space — especially one as iconic to the downtown as the Community Theater — would ordinarily be an idea to be lauded and championed, to do so at the expense of small businesses, thriving and beloved small businesses, that constitute the heart of the downtown is wrong.
I don’t know what specifically in the University’s plans necessitates the closure of the Old Post Tavern, of Park Lane Opticians, or of the barbershop that I have frequented all of my life, Barber Serville, but I do know that my barber has been cutting hair in that location for sixty-one years and has outlasted multiple iterations of the Community Theater space that have, it should be noted, all ultimately failed. That the Fairfield downtown has managed to evade the onslaught of chains and blight of vacancies that have bedeviled other municipalities’ town centers should be celebrated, as should the businesses that have made this town home for so long. That the town is acceding to the University’s and developer Kleban’s forcible eviction and closure of these businesses is unconscionable, and the town frankly ought to be ashamed.
Yes, the theater marquee is historic, so here are some alternative ideas: How about the University stick to the existing footprint of the space during renovation and leave its neighbors alone? Or how about the marquee be restored and the space itself restructured to accommodate offices or retail? Or how about we just knock down the rusting marquee and let that become the victim of progress? It’s harsh, but is it really worse than evicting and killing our downtown’s thriving small businesses?
July 26 marked the 29th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This historic law provides civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities to access businesses, employment, transportation, telecommunications, as well as State and local government programs and services. The Town of Fairfield continues to make strides in achieving the goals set forth in the ADA.
U.S. Census data suggests that approximately 10-15% of the Fairfield population reports having a disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to our residents. We are proud of the steps Fairfield has taken to make our community a more inclusive and welcoming place for everyone.
Last year, the Fairfield Human Services Commission established the Committee for People with Disabilities to help those with disabilities participate more fully in community life. Its mission is to ensure that Fairfield is a welcoming community where individuals with disabilities can lead active and fulfilling lives. “I look forward to addressing the needs of those with physical and developmental challenges now and into the future, and to insure that Fairfield continues to be a welcoming and inclusionary community for all people,” said Kris Burbank, Chair of the Committee. “This is a call to action. We encourage our friends and neighbors to do their part within the community, businesses and other organizations, to help expand inclusivity. The best way to honor ADA is to incorporate its spirit into our everyday lives.”
Human Services Director