The Revitalization Committee of New Hope Borough Council, headed by Joe Franlin, has been discussing cutting down New Hope’s iconic Christmas pine and moving the famous cannon at its base to make way for an expansion of the Logan Inn’s outdoor dining area across West Ferry Street into “Cannon Square.”
Coincidentally, Franlin is being considered Tuesday night by Borough Council for a seat on that group (7:30 p.m. in the Community Room at 125 New St.). Franlin, along with Council President Scandone, are also key players in New Hope’s bid to double parking meter rates, and both did not comment on the parking and Cannon Square issues.
But documents obtained by the Free Press detail a June 29 meeting to discuss Cannon Square that included Logan Inn Owner Frank Cretella, Gilmore Engineering, Architect Ralph Fey, Scandone, Franlin, Pam Coleman, and Lambertville “Rivertowns” Executive Director Dave Morgan.
“This project was first proposed in 1997,” reads the document dated July 28. “The latest [sic] the piece of Ferry Street adjacent to Logan Inn and the island that the cannon sits on both belong to Logan Inn. Ralph provided a rendition the [sic] proposed changes.
“PennDOT’s biggest concern is the right turn from Main St., which may necessitate getting rid of 3 parking spaces and/or changing the turning radius. Next step develop a new rendition and submit to PennDot…Joe [Franlin] will look into 1)Public space question 2) historical significance of new plan 3) find out if tree stays 4) look into whether the utility pole is a problem.”
Sources with knowledge of Franlin’s presentation say Revitalization Committee members seemed taken aback by the the idea of killing the tall pine tree that traditionally serves as the centerpiece of New Hope’s popular Christmas holiday celebration, and also ditching the popular black cannon and balls at its base. Sources say the idea of relocating the cannon to the grounds of the nearby Parry Mansion has been floated.
One person who says he wants to save the tree is Logan Inn Owner Frank Cretella. He doesn’t agree with talk from the borough about cutting the tree down and planting a smaller, more appropriately-shaped version in its place.
Cretella says he’s going to spend $20,000 and move the conifer the few feet needed to accommodate the altered traffic flow caused by converting the north two lanes of West Ferry Street as it meets Main Street into dining space.
“Rough plans were sent to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), they commented back, and we came up with a viable solution that alters the shape of island slightly for traffic,” Cretella explained.
“When I first came to the point of purchasing the Logan Inn, I knew I wanted to expand it,” Cretella continued. “We met with Dee Dee Bowman, and she mentioned the plan of Cannon Square being changed, and the roadway being closed, and seating in the roadway.” Bowman chairs the Historic Architectural Review Board, and the Parking Subcommittee of the Revitalization Committee recently in the spotlight over their role in the proposed doubling of New Hope parking meter rates.
Cretella also thinks the famous black cannon in the square is part of New Hope history, so he’s going to clean it up and keep it within a few feet of where it is now.
“I’ve always loved New Hope,” he said.
The Logan Inn is located on one acre of downtown New Hope turf, has 73 parking spaces, can seat 400 at its main restaurant, and boasts 16 rooms.