Why hijack the Glenbrook Community Center

In response to Mayor Caroline Simmons’ recent editorial, I would like to offer a different perspective on the proposed development of the Glenbrook Community Center. As a board member of the Glenbrook Neighborhood Association, I was made aware of the plans for the 51 apartment development and was initially in favor of it, until I learned that the only entities invited to come up with ideas for the building were those who could offer accommodation on the site. The mayor’s office informed us that the only development the city would sanction would be something that would provide housing. Why is it necessary to divert a building that has been a community center for generations to provide housing? Can’t we at least consider the possibility that maintaining the building as a community center would help more people than 51 apartments?

I think we can all agree that Stamford is an expensive place to live and affordable housing is a necessary goal. There are many sites in Stamford and Glenbrook that would be suitable for this development. I even suggested that the vacant property behind my house be converted into affordable housing. The idea that we have to sacrifice the Glenbrook Community Center to achieve this objective does not convince me. I feel now more than ever that Glenbrook needs to restore the services that a community center would provide.

The Glenbrook Neighborhood Association Board is not unanimous in its approval of this development. The GNA Board of Directors did not ask its members for input, nor did District 7 Representatives Lindsey Miller and Monica DiCostanzo ask their constituents. I am convinced that given the choice, the vast majority of people would choose a community center.

At first, the GNA board unanimously supported the mayor’s proposal for housing because we were told it was the only option. However, as soon as there was a glimmer of hope to save our community center, eight of the 10 council members revoked their support for the mayor’s proposal. It wasn’t until the mayor reaffirmed that it was this housing development or nothing that some council members returned to their original position of support. It just goes to show that even in the hearts and minds of the GNA board members who decided to approve this housing proposal, a community center is what they would really want for Glenbrook.

Glenbrook and the east side of Stamford deserve the restoration of our community center! The ultimatum that we need to support this plan or be left with nothing is not what is in our city’s best interest. The community deserves that all possible avenues be explored to make it a community center before considering its sale for alternative purposes. We love Glenbrook and have high hopes for its future. The Glenbrook Community Center has been the heart of our neighborhood for decades. We deserve to bring it to life!

Laurie Doig is a resident of Stamford.

Jill E. Washington