2014-01-24 / Opinion

Facts Support Breakers Proposal

To the Editor:

In 1998, Judy and I founded the National Museum of American Illustration (NMAI) and Frederick Law Olmsted Park on Victoria and Bellevue avenues, near The Breakers.

The primary opponent to The Breakers visitors center proposal is the errant Bellevue Ochre Point Neighborhood Association (BOPNA). In 1999, BOPNA vigorously opposed our art museum and park, now recognized internationally for its global cultural contributions. We resoundingly defeated the association's opposition in 1999, and they are once again on the wrong side in 2014. Known for irresponsible battles ignoring facts, their membership (perhaps well-intentioned) blindly follows leaders who relish their own limelight, while members remain oblivious to their errors. To battle this proposal, they hired a landscape architect to build a meritless case opposing Preservation Society of Newport County’s (PSNC) architectural project. They further concocted specious rumors that NMAI, Beechwood, Belcourt, and Rough Point would all follow suit with visitors centers should the current proposal be approved. That is utter rubbish.

We favor PSNC’s proposal because:

It is the right project, at the right time, in the right place.

It serves visitors' needs elegantly, without commercialism.

It has no adverse impacts and no negative architectural attributes.

BOPNA may believe that opposing the project serves their community. They exercised that assumption in our case in 1999, ignoring facts prior to attacking their prey. Recently, the R.I. Historical Preservation

& Heritage Commission approved The Breakers project. BOPNA has yet to present responsible facts to prove that the proposal should be terminated, instead relying on negative emotions, nonissues, and innuendo. Precious time was lost on the serpentine pathway issue which gardeners could change quickly and for which original plans are nonexistent.

The proposal is extraordinarily well-sited and it perfectly accommodates the building program, yet BOPNA does not look at such real issues. They apparently thought their best shot at downing the proposal was hiring landscape architect Patricia O’Donnell, who incorrectly attempted to prove a pathway analysis was of greater significance than everything else. Far more important than what O'Donnell said is what she didn't say. She was virtually mute regarding the proposed building. Architects know her input had negligible content and no value.

The PSNC proposal is a wellconceived project, respecting historical issues and sensitive environmental elements. I further favor this superb design because it does not interfere with historic structures, existing landscape, views, or circulation systems. And, unlike other suggestions, it does not place a five-star restaurant in a parking lot as an alternative. It would pass a federal environmental impact statement; I know as I led the General Services Administration EIS team, for JFK's Presidential Library.

HDC, please come to your senses, approve this worthy project, and stop hogwashing. Laurence S. Cutler


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