Published On: Wed, Nov 25th, 2015

U.S. to New Hope: Odette’s project threatens area’s history and character

us department of interiorThe U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service slammed redevelopment plans for the former Odette’s site in New Hope after reviewing the project last month at the request of the P.A. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), governmental officials confirmed Friday.

DCNR is working with developer Gateway to New Hope, LLC because DCNR owns the land surrounding the Odette’s structures.

Gateway to New Hope has sought since April 2014 to tear down the historic Odette’s tavern to make way for a boutique conference center, an action the U.S. National Park Service said in an October 15 letter represents a “serious threat to the character and integrity of the Delaware Canal.”

odettesThe Delaware Canal was identified as a National Historic Landmark in 1976, and it’s the job of the National Park Service to work with landmark owners to ensure their property’s continued historic status.

They say the Odette’s building “retains integrity and is not diminished by the subsequent 20th century additions.”

In fact, the National Park Service finds four significant elements of the planned project to be “problematic”:

  1. The proposed “total demolition and permanent loss of the 18th century historic inn,” which “appears to retain its full stone structure on all four sides”;
  2.  The proposed new structure presents “a scale and mass that is wholly out of character with both the canal and the adjacent New Hope Historic District”;
  3. Construction of the luxury resort requires “substantial footings or foundations within a few feet of historic masonry canal walls” and will likely create “vibrations and changes in the ground water that could cause serious and irreparable damage to the historic structure of the canal itself,” and
  4. Restrictions that will be imposed on the canal tow path will “both physically and visually limit the visitor experience of [the] park.”

Concludes the Department of the Interior service, “The Odette’s site history, inclusive of the pre-canal operations, the 100 years of canal operations, and the subsequent history as both a Commonwealth park and a restaurant managed by Odette Myrtil, is far too important to have redirected by a use that will destroy that history and character.”

DCNR spokesperson Rick Dalton indicated that next steps in the process are not certain, but his department will “get back to the developer” with Federal concerns, and proceed with the project in an incremental manner that protects the Delaware Canal State Park. But that apparently may not be sufficient to spare the 1784 tavern from the bulldozer.

The Federal Government itself lacks the power to compel Gateway to New Hope (private owners of the historic tavern), the state, or New Hope Borough to follow or even seek their opinion going forward, acknowledged Bonnie Halda, chief of preservation assistance for the Northeast Region of the National Park Service.

“Our role is advisory; we do not have a regulatory role,” she explained.

Gateway to New Hope did not respond to a request for comment.

 

 

 

 

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Displaying 8 Comments
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  1. mband2008@comcast.net' Melvin Band says:

    The fact that the DCNR’s role is ONLY advisory means that it has a lot of bark ,BUT no bite.

  2. -Odette’s Restaurant in New Hope is located on a man-made island that sits between the Delaware River and the Delaware Canal,so they better hurry up and start doing something before that sink to the River…lol

  3. mergingmusicinc@gmail.com' John Danaher says:

    First up: If anyone bothered to read the history of the Playhouse…..available in the library by the way, they would see that public outcry AGAINST the building of the playhouse was no less than huge. It was going to destroy the town and all that it held sacred.
    Hence, the issues we experience in our quaint little hamlet presently are nothing new.
    2: I find it ironic that not one person other than Mr. Tom Scanapico and now Gateway has ever stepped forward to restore,save, or help the Odette’s building, least of all the loudest voice Kathryn Auerbach who claims to embrace the historic culture of New Hope.
    Not once has she proposed ANY idea or plan to address, restore or restore the crumbling eyesore of what was Odette’s.
    It never fails to amaze me that the loudest mouths do the least to address the issues.
    Family affiliation? 0 to do with my personal opinion here.
    For the record, I have personally worked and assisted in saving several historic barns and buildings from developers such as Toll Brothers and company and have never seen or heard from any of the critics on this or any other site helping out.

  4. Comforting to know that living in $1mm+ Waterworks has nothing to do with literacy. And even more to know Obama and the Feds have decided that a perpetual eyesore is in the best interest of us New Hope children.

  5. Btate@comcast.net' Bill Tate says:

    My suggestion is to let The property rot. It’s already an eye sore and by the way condemned. Eventually it will have to surcome to the bulldozer anyway. Why not put a gateway to Newhope that all the locals can be prowled of. I live in the Waterworks and would welcome a the new venue

  6. kb3eaa@hotmail.com' J Beard says:

    So build a “gateway to New Hope” by destroying its historical buildings first? Maybe the sign will say “Abandon New Hope, all ye who enter here”…..

    • Most of what was New Hope has already been torn down and rebuilt at the north end. So, I am very thankful the parks department gave a thumbs down to the Gateway whoever-they- are folks. Hard to understand council or anyone not wanting to retain the very few, truly historic elements of this special river town. Hoping for a new Odettes with a wonderful piano bar and being able to see the river when driving south– and north.

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