Posted on 07/30/2009
Villager Staff Writer
WILTON — Public use for Ambler Farm’s Raymond-Ambler house is in the works, says Pamela Hovland, vice president of Friends of Ambler Farm.
On Monday night, Hovland, Ambler Farm attorney Clarissa Cannavino and architect Rich Vail attended a public hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission to discuss the use of the building. Currently the Raymond-Ambler house is categorized as residential, Hovland said, but Friends of Ambler Farm would like to see the house changed to public and semi-public use.
“Right now we are trying to preserve the architectural character, and at the same time, modernize the interior and structure of the building so the house is up to code,” said Hovland. “Some parts of the building are preserved, some restored and some are being renovated but the whole house is essentially being upgraded.”
Vail said there are a few changes that still need to be made around the house for safety reasons. One change would be the addition of a walkway to the front of the house in order to make the building handicap accessible, he said. Another will be the addition of three light posts around the house, which are meant to look like old wooden posts during the day.
“We are only going to add small additions,” said Vail. “But they will be necessary ones.”
If the Raymond-Ambler house is open to the public, Hovland said, it will benefit the entire community.
“This is a vibrant place already, but there will be more activities available to Ambler Farm if this house is useable to the public,” said Hovland. “One major change is that we will be able to enhance school programs.”
Hovland gave other possible building use ideas to the commission, such as creating an underground railroad theme and using different rooms to show how slaves hid along the railroad. She also suggested the building have a frozen in time theme, where specific rooms could show different historic time periods.
Commission member Bas Nabulsi was concerned about the safety of changing the house from residendial to public use.
“I’m concerned if we increase the number of groups here that children will run into the busy street or there will be too many cars around,” he said.
Hovland said that Friends of Ambler Farm already has signs in the area, and numerous people who will direct traffic.
“We have members directing traffic and making sure that all pedestrians are safe and know where to go,” she said. “I think that once we have this walkway to the house it will be even safer for children.”
Commission member Alice Ayers agreed that the Friends of Ambler Farm are very adamant about safety.
“The friends of Ambler Farm are very organized,” she said. “The last time I went to Ambler Farm, there were people helping you out, showing you where to park and how to get from one place to another — it was all figured out.”
Hovland said that she is happy to move forward with the Raymond-Ambler house restorations and additions, and is very confident the public will be able to enjoy the house soon.
“Making this house available to the public offers an opportunity to expand what we do at Amber Farm,” said Hovland. “I think that both adults and children will benefit from this change.”
The commission is scheduled to vote on whether to approve the Raymond-Ambler house for public and semi-public use on Monday, Sept. 14.