Some of the bond money approved by Danbury residents during the election last week will go toward Richter Park golf course improvements and renovations to the Richter House mansion. The improvements to the 1920s building would cover structural, environmental, utility and code related issues.
A $1 grant has been approved by the state. Richter House is listed on the Connecticut Register of Historic Places.
The phases have been broken up in a way that they are self-contained, and they won't have to worry about having unfinished areas of the building. The City will have to go out and look for funding for Phase Two and Phase Three. The second floor will be turned into a meeting room, but Mayor Mark Boughton says a lot of utility work is needed there.
The money will also be used to build a ticket kiosk for people that are attending the outdoor musicals during the summer. Boughton says this will preserve a City asset to protect it from going the way of Hearthstone Castle. The Mayor referring to the ruins at Tarrywile Park. The City acquired Hearthstone Castle in the 1980s when the land was purchased for a park, and the structure has been neglected since that time. The roof collapsed into the basement.
Betty Bontempi of the Richter Association for the Arts told the City Council that between the time they put up the thermostat and the first puff of heat is felt, it's two hours. Performers have been so cold, volunteers make them hot chocolate just to hold. For most of one season, they didn't have any hot water because something was wrong with the pipes. They had to heat water on the stove in order to wash hands and dishes. She called the upstairs plumbing a disaster. The bathrooms upstairs have broken floor tiles, the public can't walk upstairs and they can't have art shows. Bontempi also noted that they can't plug in two coffee pots in the same room, let alone the same outlet.
Bontempi says handicap people have a hard time on the uneven stones of the front path. If they do manage to get to the door, she says there is no railing for them to hold when they try to negotiate the two steps into the house. She says they had to have two strong men lift a young woman in a wheelchair down the three steps into the salon so she could perform her poetry program. Bontempi added that most handicap people don't come to Richter anymore.