The town cites the owners of the Read-Ott mansion; future in doubt | New


PAWTUCKET – The degraded facade of one of the city’s most recognizable former mansions once again takes center stage in the Quality Hill neighborhood after the city committed violations last month against its owner, the church Greek Orthodox Church from the nearby Assumption.

Neighbor and local attorney Mark McBurney, who has long been at an impasse with church leaders over the condition of the Read-Ott house at 97 Walcott Street, filed a lawsuit alleging repeated violations because the ‘repeat offender’ church failed to complete improvements to the old mansion.

“The Ott mansion has been abandoned and derelict for about thirty years,” he wrote to the city. “It’s a perpetual horror, depressing the value of neighborhood properties. Worshipers do not live at Quality Hill, so the decline in property values ​​over 20 years is of no concern to them. “

Code violations aside, he said, the church committed in a 1992 memorandum of understanding to develop a comprehensive plan to maintain all properties. The church neither retained its properties nor created such a plan, he said, and in 1997 the city found multiple violations.

In a Nov. 15 letter to McBurney from Zoning and Code Enforcement Director William Vieira Sr., Vieira indicated that the city indicated that the mansion church was in a state of disrepair, including requiring repair. painting and replacing rotten or broken trim and coverings. .

Vieira found no violations related to McBurney’s other complaints, including trash issues and lights allegedly pointing to neighboring properties.

McBurney said he filed his zoning complaint with the city on Aug. 20, “after years of unsuccessful negotiations with the church.” Church officials did not respond to a request for comment this week.

Emily Rizzo, spokesperson for Mayor Donald Grebien’s office, said homeowners have been made aware of the violations and are required to work to correct them.

“The zoning / compliance department is responsible for responding to all complaints and strives to improve the quality of life in our city,” she said.

McBurney said that in his previous conversations with church lawyer George Microulis, the repair estimates were $ 75,000 and the church was considering demolishing the building instead of repairing it. He said he had learned that due to the city’s findings, parishioners will be asked whether to preserve the building.

A demolition would only add to the trauma suffered by the neighborhood when the church ordered the cutting of six hundred-year-old trees, he said.

“This is the second time that the city cites the church for lack of maintenance of the Ott manor. The first case dates from 1997, ”he said. “Both quotes show that the Greek Orthodox Church has failed to maintain the Ott mansion for about 40 years. “

He added, “We all have an obligation to maintain our properties. It’s infuriating when these upholsterers with Massachusetts plates come in and out every Sunday, leaving their mess in their mirrors, without paying a dime in property taxes. We pay taxes and maintain our properties. The Greek Orthodox Church in Pawtucket does neither.

The breeze reported two years ago this week that the Preservation Society of Pawtucket, now known as the Heritage Alliance of Pawtucket, was focusing its efforts on preserving the Read-Ott House and the Pitcher-Goff House, both on Walcott Street, after the disappointing demolition of the No. 6 Pipe Company. The main concern then, officials said, was the Read-Ott Mansion, which was being considered for demolition at the time.

The church had also sought to demolish the mansion a decade earlier, conservatives noted.

Officially listed in a synopsis of historic Quality Hill as the 1842 Read-Ott House, the old mansion is described as an Italian-style Greek house that has been given a full third floor and a host of neo-style details. – Georgian at the beginning of the 20th century. WG Sheldon was the architect of the remodel at the time, designing the most important added detail, the two-story balustraded front portico.

The city’s property tax database lists the mansion as covering 6,000 square feet of living space.

It was originally built for John B. Read, a hardware dealer, and was refurbished for Joseph Ott, founder of the Royal Weaving Company.

In his August complaint to the city, McBurney complained about rat-infested waste left uncovered in dumpsters, including police scheduled to speak with church officials about the issue in August, from large structures industrial roofs with exhaust fans possible a few centimeters from the edge of the roof emitting foul odors, spotlights lighting up neighboring windows, games of chance on site even if the church has agreed to no longer play games of chance from 1992 onwards, noise from industrial air conditioners, poorly designed parking plans, and non-compliance with property lines and fences, among others.

Vieira, following his response confirming the citations of disrepair, said he saw no waste issues at the time of his visit, although he reminded the church that waste must be removed in both days, said roof structures are at the legal height and distance, said lighting is properly controlled, and said the deal banning gambling in 1992 was tied to casino nights, bingos and other forms of hardcore play.

“Today these forms of gambling are no longer permitted, and I think the intention of the agreement was to stop this type of gambling,” he said. “However, the city is aware that churches and organizations can sell raffle tickets at their events for cash and prizes, as long as it is approved by state police.”

Vieira also found that the noise level of church air conditioners will need to be measured next summer. A parking plan was submitted and approved by the zoning council as part of the 1992 decision granting exemptions to the church, he said.

In terms of property violations, he said the only ones he found were between McBurney’s property at 15 Arlington St. and the church property and that it is McBurney’s fence that blocks the access to the property of the church. The property lines were proven by a previously conducted investigation, he said, and that investigation showed McBurney trespassing on church property and debris behind his garage damaging the church fence.

“For now, I am asking you to remove the pieces of fence from the property and clear all the debris from the back of your garage,” he said.

“If you believe this is your property, I suggest that you hire a licensed land surveyor to dispute the investigation that was carried out at the church’s expense.”


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