Friday, November 13, 2015

The Fate of Meadowview Farms

This article was submitted to LongmeadowBuzz by Betsy Huber Port/ Longmeadow, MA.

[click photo to enlarge]
Don’t you just love Google? I just discovered that the Wolcott-Brewer-Young mansion was named Meadowview Farms by Mary Ida Young. If there was an original name to the place in 1884, I have not found it yet.  Does our community have a say in the future of this empty mansion?

Everyone should agree that the mansion needs love, repair and restoration. A New York bank owns it and offering it for sale is very likely. Who will buy this masterpiece and what will happen when it is sold? The future of this property brings to mind many questions and few answers. Many would agree that we want it to remain a single-family dwelling. To change the zoning of this prominent location on the town green would not necessarily be easy, but we must open up a dialogue. The Planning Board, The Zoning Board and the Community Preservation Committee must speak with the Historic District Committee to discuss the fate of this historical treasure.

An 11,000 square foot home is a big place – unmanageable for most families.  The new owner of 734 Longmeadow Street will have lots to do before moving in. The exterior looks much worse than the interior I understand. Perhaps we should consider a moderate and very limited zoning change here, within the strict guidelines of a historic district. Can CPA funds help to fix the place up? Could a B &B ever be considered, or is that simply unrealistic? How about dividing up the house into 4-5 apartments? Is that out of the question? Let’s take this opportunity to think outside the box, yet control the future of the structure if possible. Guiding the fate with historic preservation in mind can allow us to save the building, and respect the history of the mansion while considering the realities of the future in a positive way.

So much has changed since the 1880s when the house was built. By Longmeadow standards it is not one of the oldest homes around the town green, and other homes may need to adapt in years to come also.  Many date from the early 1800s and even late 1700s. Parking, traffic and neighborhood concerns are all zoning issues to be examined very carefully. How will we move toward the future in a positive way?

Soon after the dawn of the new millennia, I was on a sub-committee for the Longmeadow Long Range Plan. Our main mission was to discuss “Quality of Life” here in this residential community. A continued long-range dialogue is needed now. If the LRP initiative fell dormant, or just receded into the background due to immediate priorities, let’s revive the conversation. The eastside commercial area, zoned for business is now expanding. Can we guide the fate of Route 5 to protect it from development that is not in keeping with its historic past? This is an idyllic stretch of Longmeadow Street, sandwiched between northern Connecticut and the city of Springfield. Without question, our part of Longmeadow Street is beautiful and special with early American homes, mature trees and a very long New England-style town green. It is worth preserving this unique character. I will not give up on a dream of respecting and maintaining the Historic District, but we need to take action. It will not take care of itself. Thank you in advance for becoming part of this conversation. Town leaders will listen when we speak up!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Are coyotes responsible for missing cats in town?

This post is contributed by a Longmeadow resident concerned about the appearance of a coyote in her neighborhood and its harmful effects on cats and our children.

Coyote- file photo
I am a resident in the Blueberry section of town.  We always have stray cats that appear at our back door, probably drawn by the indoor cats we have.  I have consistently fed a couple of “stray” cats ever since we’ve lived in town (14 years), although not the same strays-one will disappear, another will appear to take their place.  About three weeks ago I was awoken at 1 am by a cat growling outside my bedroom window.  The outside security light was on, and I was able to clearly see a coyote attempting to kill the cat (who was hiding in bushes along the foundation of the house).  The coyote ran off when I shouted at it.  The previous winter I had seen large pawprints in the snow paths around our house.  We are not located in an area with a lot of woods – my house is very near the elementary school, a suburban neighborhood with house lots no more than .40 acres.  We do not border Forest Park.  In the years I have lived in the house, I have observed opossum, raccoon, skunk, fox, and numerous deer in my backyard.  This is the first time I’ve seen a coyote.

I have noticed a number of posters about lost cats in Longmeadow.  I would strongly urge all residents to keep their cats inside.  No matter how much a house cat would love to be an indoor/outdoor cat, you are risking not seeing the animal again if a coyote finds it.  Coyotes are adept predators.  Over the years, I have taken one stray to the vet for puncture wounds (along both sides of the spine of the cat) that appeared to be cause by a predator biting the cat (he recovered), and one other stray that simply disappeared.  These are strays that live most of their lives outside and are experienced with other wildlife.  An indoor/outdoor cat doesn’t stand a chance against a coyote.

I’m hoping your forum could get the word out to the residents.  It is heartbreaking to lose a pet, and probably worse to have one just disappear without ever knowing what happened.  We might live in a suburb, but we share our suburban neighborhood with plenty of predators too.

Also, it is a good idea for residents to be aware of the threat of coyotes.  They are present in our neighborhoods, so making sure children are taught not to approach an animal (which looks a lot like a dog), and be aware when out walking by themselves or with their dogs is probably a good idea.

Thanks for your time.
Mary K. Lewonchuk