Letter: Proposed Neighbor to Neighbor Food Pantry Building Impinges on Sanctity and Property Values of Nearby Residents

Letter to the editor submitted on Oct 10, 2016 from Mary Jane and Bill Penwell 

“Put some lipstick on that pig!” is an old saying in the advertising industry when faced with trying to make a weak product appear more acceptable. All of the efforts to make the placement of a Neighbor-to-Neighbor “Walmart” store in close proximity to the homes of Putnam Park/Putnam Hill residents more acceptable … like tweaking the architectural plan, moving the parking areas a few feet, turning out the security lights at night, etc. … are nothing more than putting the proverbial lipstick on a pig.

The fact of the matter is, a facility that brings noise, traffic, dumpsters, odors and insects into proximity of homes while changing the character of a long-standing neighborhood has no business in the proposed location.

Opposition to the Neighbor-to-Neighbor facility has nothing to do with the services they provide, but it has everything to do with impinging on the sanctity and property values of nearby residents. While we can’t understand why the Christ Church congregation would want to lease a substantial amount of their beautiful and historic property for $1 a year so such an inappropriate facility could be built, we do understand why Neighbor-to-Neighbor would want to take advantage of such a financially advantageous lease arrangement.

However, it may be instructive to note that The Rummage Room in Old Greenwich was started in the basement of a church, but when it outgrew the facility and started to impinge on the neighborhood, they leased retail space in the heart of downtown Old Greenwich and thanks to high visibility, constant foot traffic and access to off-street parking, the number of women, children and families in need that they were serving increased a hundred fold.

If we were counseling Neighbor-to-Neighbor (which we aren’t), we would urge them to carefully consider finding a highly visible space with ample parking where they could pursue their mission and grow the number of people they serve in a supportive and welcoming neighborhood.

Mary Jane and Bill Penwell
Putnam Hill Residents