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Proposed CVS Still Has Some Concerned

Residents and members of town historical preservation commission spoke out this week about design, sustainability elements of plan.

While there is still some time before the proposal for a CVS at Spring Street and Speedwell Avenue again goes before the town, several residents aired concerns this week over the present design.

Residents and members of the Morristown Historical Preservation Commission spoke at both Tuesday's Town Council meeting and at the Thursday redevelopment meeting, where an update had been scheduled on the CVS Project Redevelopment Area but was tabled.

Marion Harris, vice chair of the preservation commission, noted Thursday that a meeting between developers and her group was expected to be scheduled sometime after Oct. 19, when preservation commission chair Ken Miller would be back from vacation.

On Tuesday, Harris said the project "maybe needs a little shepherding."

Issues raised have included the decision to tear down the old structure on the site, a former used car dealership built in 1903, as well as design practices implemented in the current plan.

"If you have usable buildings, you don't knock them down and chuck it in the landfill," Harris said. "It's hard to see how CVS consorts to sustainability."

While fellow preservation commission member Carol Barkin, also with the Morris Tourism Bureau, acknowledged that building and the adjacent building formerly occupied by Blockbuster Video—which also would be knocked down for the project—"aren't attactive to some, they are a key part of town.

"People see that car dealership when they come to town," she said. "If we keep bulldozing things away, people won't come here anymore. It would be nice if they (CVS) were a little preservation-minded."

On Thursday, Washington Avenue resident Tina Wahlstrom noted she was in support of the project. "I am very supportive of CVS and the traffic plans," she said.

Still, Wahlstrom said she was "a little disappointed" at some prospoed design elements, including a two-lane thoroughfare for truck traffic to the site, a building set far from the road and a parking lot that "is so obvious."

Linda Carrington, of Macculloch Avenue, also noted the plan as it is holds the potential of creating a too-tempting cut-through for drivers from Spring onto Speedwell.

"Or, maybe we make it into a thoroughfare? Just a thought," she said.

Wahlstrom said when developers have said something cannot be accomodated, "I think we should insist 'can't' is code for 'won't' or 'costs more.'

"We need to hold the line and insist we determine the look and feel," she said. "It's not up to the brand."

Steve October 12, 2012 at 07:33 PM
How long ago was it a car dealership and how long has it been empty? It's not an attractive building; I say demolish it! It's no famous Morristown landmark. Give me a break.
Margret Brady October 12, 2012 at 08:21 PM
The car dealership wasn't originally that close to the road. When Spring Street was widened and regraded as part of an older 1960s urban renewal project the grade of the road was lowered and a wider brick sidewalk was installed. The front of the building had to be changed in order to add the new steps now needed to access the door. The entry was changed in an attempt to make the building appear to have a more colonial look. The ugly retaining walls were added. The entire intersection provides a much different view than that of the original dearership. While the other side of the street retained much of its original character and setbacks, the Lotz building intersection is far from what it was and the changes did not make it more usable or attractive.
Lewis Stone October 13, 2012 at 12:14 AM
It was not a used car dealership. it was a new car dealership. Also, some buildings can be reconfigured and reused. However, that building has a ramp in the back for access to the repair facility on the second floor. The building would need too much work to save. The same is true for the nearby gas station. It appears to be one building but it actually two buildings. The first building on the site, the Blockbuster is also too old to be reconfigured.
Motown Resident October 13, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Perhaps the town and the gadflies can be so difficult and cost prohibitive to the developer that they'll scrap the project. Then we can keep the vacant car dealership as it is and preserve our past.
Ed Romanoff October 13, 2012 at 01:06 PM
The buildings are now eye sores and hurt the image of our town. Perhaps renovating the former auto dealership building to be part of the overall CVS design might be a solution, provided the traffic and parking issues can be resolved. The highly important benefit of a drug store being close to residents of the area should not be overlooked by bureaucrats who probably never had to worry about their own proximity to a pharmacy. Ed Romanoff
Hammer1424 October 13, 2012 at 07:05 PM
If you want to talk about "Eye Sore" there's always Calalu Cafe -
wretchedone October 13, 2012 at 08:29 PM
A much more important concern is the traffic. The intersection needs to be reconfigured per the original redevelopment plan. It's one of the worst intersections in the county, if not the State. Saving the old building is ridiculous. There's no architectural or historical signifcance involved. Having pseudo historians claim so doesn't change that.
Margret Brady October 14, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Historic character is important and elements of the old Lotz Linclon Mercury dealership can be retained in a way that the major improvements to the intersection improvments will be retained. The Cresitello traffic plan as proposed was seriously flawed, would have cost the town $6 million dollars in addittion to destroying the historic character of the other side of Speedwell Avenue. The historic commission should have been involved in the beginning but have now agreed to present their suggestions to the developer and the developer has agreed to hear them out. In my opinion that's will bring Morristown the best solution for us all and we should be applauding the Town and its planners for letting it happen.
Ken C October 17, 2012 at 11:15 AM
I drive through Morristown daily and when I noticed the announcement that the two sites were going to be developed, I immediately thought about the benefits to the area. I understand the need to preserve history however the property has been ignored and now that someone wants to develope the lot the town is requiring certain things be done. If the property was such an important part of history why didn't the town do something beforehand? It's funny how people come out of the woodwork to state how others money should be spent.
Scott Houston December 14, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Wasn`t the Blockbuster previously a Rent-A-Wreck car rental place ? I rented a car there around `84. I believe they had first been further down the hill near the church.

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