OUR VIEW: When is our historical past worth preserving?

Published on Sunday, 29 October 2017 20:33
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Development versus historic preservation? It’s an old tug-of-war, now going on in Plainville. But we like the idea that one activist may be willing to compromise.

In Saturday’s Bristol Press, reporter Brian Johnson introduced us to Nancy Eberhardt, president of the Plainville Historical Society, long one of the most active groups in protecting our regional past.

Her current goal is to preserve a “mule haul trail” that ran alongside the Farmington Canal in the 19th century. It was used from 1829 to 1848 as mules and oxen towed canal boats down the stream.

The land, behind homes on Hollyberry Lane, is now targeted for development for additional housing.

But there is an alternative.

Regular readers know that we have long been supporters of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, which runs - mostly - from New Haven to Northampton, Mass. over an old rail bed that was laid to cover the same route the canal had used in an earlier era.

One suggestion is that the canal path could coexist with the proposed extension of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail. In addition to preserving this Plainville-based glimpse of our less motorized past, it would acquaint people from all over the state with the land’s industrial history.

“Trying to hold onto our history is not always easy but the canal made such an impact on this town, and with our 150th anniversary as a town coming up in two years, it would be a shame to lose it,” Eberhardt told the Press.

We realize that building homes along this path might add to the tax base but is that worth seeing history destroyed?

Posted in New Britain Herald, Editorials on Sunday, 29 October 2017 20:33. Updated: Sunday, 29 October 2017 20:36.