Letter about Orchard Street raises questions

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor

In a letter in the Oct. 23 issue headlined “Post needs to be more accurate in reporting about synagogue” the writer, a member of Greenwich Reform Synagogue (GRS), takes issue with the Post using the phrase “in an otherwise residential neighborhood,” specifically the word “otherwise.”

His issue is that Orchard Street, near the location where GRS is going to build their synagogue, is not an “otherwise” residential neighborhood. He lists four reasons “otherwise” is misleading: Pomerance Park, Central Middle School (CMS), Greenwich Baptist Church (GBC) and Rinaldi’s.

Pomerance Park, prior to the town wisely purchasing the property for a park, had been for well over 100 years a residential property. From the outside one cannot tell if it is a park or a large residential estate.

The building occupied by Rinaldi’s was built prior to zoning regulations prohibiting businesses in residential zones. There is no record of when the building was built. The property was divided into lots in 1905 and the houses in the immediate area were built around 1910. Originally it was a grocery store established for use by the local neighborhood and evolved into what we see today.

CMS is located on 23 acres that the Board of Education purchased in 1955 for $98,000. When the board was looking for property to build CMS it needed a large piece of property to meet the requirements to establish a school. The 23 acres that it purchased was part of the property owned by the Wiley family and used for the Blythewood Sanitarium.

GBC purchased  four acres from the Small Business Administration (SBA) in 1965 for $55,000. The SBA acquired the property through a USA lawsuit against the Wiley family for default on taxes and a loan. When GBC purchased the property it contained the Blythewood Sanitarium chapel, built in 1940, that GBC used until they built their current church building in 1970. GBC built two residential housing units in 2008 which increased the residential character of the neighborhood.

Is the writer implying because of the existence of these four non-residential properties that building the GRS synagogue in this area is OK in further reducing the “otherwise” residential character of the neighborhood?

John Timm
Cos Cob

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