Planners deny preservation status for Awosting Inn

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:18

    WEST MILFORD-The planning board voted to reject the Historic Preservation Commission's recommendation for historic designation of the Awosting Inn at its Dec. 10 meeting. A unanimous decision was returned to knock out the commission's proposal to see the 150-year-old inn given protection from demolition or removal from its current site. The board's decision met with applause and cheers from dozens of Awosting residents present at the meeting. The Awosting Association owns the inn and its president, Dale Van Nimwegen stated after the meeting: "I'm delighted and encouraged for our future plans". Van Nimwegen and the association's attorney, Walter J. Hunziker Jr., want a new community building to be built in Awosting. Van Nimwegen stated "The inn is no longer viable as a gathering place". Had the inn been recognized as an historic landmark it would have been protected from demolition and thwarted their desire to replace the building. Despite the building being some 150 years old Van Nimwegen argued: "Everybody has good memories of the building but it is the people of the community who provide the fondest memories rather than the building itself." Two nights earlier, the Awosting community group voted on the need for a new community center. The option to sell the current Awosting Inn and to use to proceeds to help construct a new building was approved by 88 percent of the 80 households taking part in the vote. Only eight voted to save the inn. "We have insufficient information at the moment to place a value on the inn and is as yet not on the market," said Van Nimwegen. Hunziker also argued against an historic designation for the inn, asserting that "for a building to be historic it requires more than just its age, it requires significance. The building is not an asset to the community." A single family home likely would be built on the land made available after the inn is demolished, Van Nimwegen said. "The Historic Preservation Commission is missing the point. It is the tradition of the community to solve its problems and it is this tradition which is being preserved," said the asssociation president. James Van Hooker, chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission said he was "obviously disappointed and as far as I can remember this is the first time a recommendation to the planning board has been rejected." The Awosting Association will now proceed with its planning application to the council for construction of a new community building on an alternate site.