Monday, January 03, 2011

Hitchcock-Phillips House: Who has controlling authority?

The NHRs Luther Turmelle is reporting on the Town Historian story. Based on my limited knowledge of this discussion, it seems to me that there's a critical issue that should be explored:

legal papers filed with the court cite reasons that include an unspecified violation of the terms of the lease and termination of the original rights and privileges that allowed Gagliardi an office at the Hitchcock-Phillips House.

Gagliardi said he never received anything in writing that he believes would constitute a lease when the society agreed to let him have an office in the Hitchcock-Phillips House.

This is obviously an important issue that needs to be resolved. But before moving forward with a conclusion to any conflict, one should understand the issues from which the conflict arose.

My three questions -- questions which don't seem to be getting addressed -- for understanding the genesis of this conflict:

1) What is the structure of the "ownership" and "use" of the HP House?

2) Who has the authority to permit the use of the HP House?

3) Who authorized the Town Historian's use of the HP House?

I understand the answer to my first question is that the Town of Cheshire owns the HP House and leases it to the Historical Society. And I understand the answer to my third question is that the TM authorized the use of the HP House.

But that raises a potentially critical question, my second question.

In terms of the use and / or subletting of the HP House, does the TM have controlling authority?

Tim White


Anonymous said...

The Town Council has controling authority. The position was created by Town Council resolution in the early 1990's without a term. Lillian Andrews was followed by Arthur Hostage, who was followed by Ron Gagliardi. In 2003 the Town Council appointed Gagliardi, the town's 3rd Town Historian with an indefinate term. There is no charter created / mandated position for the town historian.

Recently the Waterbury paper has confused "indefinate term" with "life time term" in 3 stories that have taken up space on this topic. Indefinate could be 3 days or 3 decades.

Last month a term was defined for the town historian. The council by a 7-2 vote resolved that an appointed town historian should be no different than any other appointed or elected official. As such next year's new town council will have to appoint or reappoint the town historian, thus creating the first 2 year term for that position.

Tim Slocum

Anonymous said...


The Historical Society made the space available to Ron. The Historical Society has a lease with the town. The dispute is between the Society and Ron Gagliardi, whose name and heretofore ceremonial position with the town is not a component part of the lease.

Tim Slocum

Tim White said...

I recall voting on the indefinite term that appointed Ron (some sort of vote happened after 2003). I think making it a definite term (either in December or January doesn't matter much to me) makes total sense. My vote to make it an indefinite term was a mistake.

Tim White said...

The Historical Society made the space available to Ron.

That's not the story I heard. Regardless, I think it's important to have a clear answer to my question:

"In terms of the use and / or subletting of the HP House, does the TM have controlling authority?"

I understand -- and appreciate -- that you already answered that question. But I think that answer should come from the Town Atty, not from the TM.

Anyway, thanks for the quick response. I really do appreciate it.