Letter: I’m standing by Avon’s barn decision
I want to thank the citizens of Avon and especially my fellow Town Council members for the many months of very thoughtful input on the proposed efforts to preserve the Hahnewald barn. This project is about Avon’s future and more particularly it is about uniqueness, authenticity, exceptionalism and that feeling you get when you know that a place like our town is special — that it has a soul. Perhaps it depends on what your hometown means to you: If you like your hometown just because it holds your post office and grocery store, that is OK. But if your hometown is your favorite place on the planet and the place you love to share with your best friends, or the place where you happily raise your kids or the place making your retirement so enriching — then you work diligently and passionately to preserve and grow what is special and exceptional.
Moving and, ultimately, repurposing Avon’s Hahnewald barn is an element of taking Avon toward exceptionalism and away from mediocrity or even stuck-in-the-mud stagnation. It is a once-in-a-century, pretty complicated opportunity to help highlight Avon’s soul. It is an opportunity, an ever-lasting statement for our future, that I and many others feel is worth fighting for. Yes, it is challenging to pull together a variety of public and private funding sources to bring this big idea to fruition over multiple phases and multiple years — but even that effort is incredible for our community’s soul and future.
I want to ensure everyone who has weighed in, pro or con, that there is no conflict of interest on my part. My uncles Arnold and Allan Nottingham sold their Avon ranch back in 1972, but I had and have no financial interest, either “substantial” (as is controlled by our town code of ethics) or tiny, in that or in the Hahnewald barn today — whether saving or demolishing it, putting it to re-use or no use. I quite simply have nothing personal to gain here. There has been quite a bit of speculation and even a number of mean-spirited allegations and demands because I proudly carry the Nottingham name and am of the opinion that we, as a community, should work to save the barn. I have always been open, honest and transparent about my opinion and in my work as a grassroots advocate, on the town’s historic preservation advisory board and while sitting as one of seven on the Avon Town Council. A council elected to do precisely this job — to make informed, hard decisions – and including hiring a new town manager who will not mismanage those decisions and subject our community to the continuing massive mismanagement hangover we suffer now.
After many months of detailed study and after weighing all of the pros and cons, the Avon Town Council determined that the barn was worth saving. Every day I hear from more people who agree that the Hahnewald barn is worth it, and for those who continue to struggle with the decision, I sincerely hope you’ll join me and your neighbors when we celebrate the barn’s relocation — and our exceptional hometown.
Tamra Nottingham Underwood