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Fairfield Avenue in Holyoke gets its own historical commission

Published: Sunday, November 28, 2010, 2:39 AM
Mike Plaisance, The Republican Mike Plaisance, The Republican

2009 rebecca lisi fairfield avenueThe Republican file photoHolyoke City Councilor Rebecca Lisi on historic Fairfield Avenue.

HOLYOKE – A street in the Highlands neighborhood has become the only one in the city with its own historical commission.

The Fairfield Avenue Local Historic District Commission consists of seven members authorized to preserve its distinctive architecture and other significant details.

The street, which is perpendicular to Northampton Street, is lined with Victorians and old mansions that date to 1870, 1800 and 1891.

Mayor Elaine A. Pluta appointed the commission and the City Council confirmed the appointments last month.

“I think it’s wonderful. It’s been in process for” years, Olivia L. Mausel, a member of the new commission, said.

Mausel, who also is cochairwoman of the citywide Historical Commission, said Fairfield Avenue is the city’s only street with its own historical commission.

Establishment of the commission will provide protection from demolition and inappropriate remodeling as commissioners try to maintain the street’s historic nature, she said.

The commission is permitted to review only changes proposed to the exterior architecture visible from a public way. The commission’s existence doesn’t mean all changes are banned, Mausel said.

“The intent is to make changes and additions harmonious, and prevent the intrusion of incongruous elements that might detract from the aesthetic and historic values of the district,” Mausel said.

The commission will hold meetings, which will be posted and open to the public, to discuss changes residents want to make to Fairfield Avenue homes, she said.

Councilor at Large Rebecca Lisi has pushed for several years to get a Fairfield Avenue commission appointed and was glad it is now in place.

“It’s an excellent example of citizens really taking revitalization of a community in their own hands,” Lisi said.

Support on Fairfield Avenue for such a commission wasn’t unanimous. Some residents have been wary of the street having such a designation.

The ordinance establishing the Fairfield Avenue Historic District says that in addition to residents, the commission must include one member from two nominees submitted by the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects and one member from two nominees submitted by the local Board of Realtors.

Besides Mausel, of 25 Briarwood Drive, the commission consists of residential members James Sutter, 30 Fairfield Ave., Sandra Parent, 347 Westfield Road, Wendy Weiss, Fairfield Avenue, and Matt Chenier, 20 Fairfield Ave., who is chairman.

Others on the commission are Realtor Charles Davignon, 167 Main St., and architect Peter Papineau, 42 Fairfield Ave.

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