No room for feud when town history is involved

No room for feud when town history is involved

I am in my sixties and a grandmother of three with deep roots in Smithfield. I want my grandchildren and future generations to know our family’s contributions to the town. My father’s family has been part of Smithfield since 1836.

My hope has been to preserve our family home, built in the 1840s, and also our place in history via the Land Trust and the Historic Preservation Commission. Now I am watching in disbelief and dismay as Smithfield’s heritage and history is being used in a political power struggle.

Our family had hoped to have the undeveloped portion of our property purchased by the Land Trust. This would leave a smaller parcel containing the house and hopefully the Preservation Commission could then obtain a grant sufficient to purchase the house.

The thought of the Land Trust being disbanded and the Town Council taking control of those undeveloped lands should make every citizen of Smithfield who cares about historic preservation sit up and take notice.

Should the council gain control of these properties, what is to stop them from deciding that development is “in the best interest” of the town, and taking them by eminent domain, even against the wishes of the families relinquishing them for their historic value?

Our family also holds a large collection of documents, letters, deeds, and newspaper clippings that are rich in historic knowledge and facts about the town and how it was built. This collection could and should be a part of a greater town collection, but right now it seems Smithfield lawmakers are hardly inclined to allocate funds to their own cultural and historical roots.

Decide to appoint neutral third party oversight to the Land Trust if you feel the town’s best interest is not being served, but it seems to me that having the Town Council take over these properties is akin to a fox guarding the hen house.

It is, at the very least, a huge conflict of interest. I’m sure the current council members feel they have no such aspirations regarding these properties, and I would like very much to believe that, but once something like this is done; there are no guarantees of what future council members might decide to do.

And furthermore, punishing those who earnestly disagree with this proposal and certain political viewpoints is as un-American as it gets.

This country was founded on free speech leading to discourse, compromise and resolution, not on “hitting back.” Politicians would do well to remember on whose shoulders they stand.

Quite frankly, this whole situation leaves me fearful of identifying my family, lest someone decide to target our historical property and make an example of us.

But I feel I must – someone must – speak up. I respectfully beseech the citizens of Smithfield to deny this power play and preserve the town’s past for future generations.

Dyanne Smith