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OPINION: Not So Fast, New Hope

new hope free pressBy Judy Williamson

As a life-long New Hope native, I don’t believe the proposed “changes for the sake of change” at Cannon Square benefit New Hope in any way. They only benefit the new owner by adding 72 outdoor seats.

The Logan Inn is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is one of the oldest continuing functioning inns in the Country (as is the entire Village Historic District). How Borough Council would even entertain for a minute the idea of reconfiguring the iconic Cannon Square for profit is beyond comprehension. The idea of adding a “three story glass elevator” to the Logan Inn is repulsive.

Does anyone else recall when the tents were erected on the lawn of the Logan? The tents were to be “summer seating” only; they were taken down in the fall for a couple of years, then not. The permanent structures that are now there are anchored by a brick paving floor, heaters and fans, a hostess station, etc. — far from being “summer only.”

The camel has once again gotten its nose under the tent the New Hope way — a little bit at a time. Now it seems the new people want to destroy the very properties that bring visitors to New Hope! Where is HARB? Where is the useless Historical Society? It’s not the same group that I helped found many years ago. They certainly have lost their purpose. Can you imagine these shenanigans happening on Cape Cod or Mystic, for instance? Or in Colonial Williamsburg? They’d have a coronary! Of course, they still care in those places.

Also, the point needs to be made that the Logan Inn has probably lost ownership rights to the Cannon Square and adjoining road, oh, maybe 80-100 years ago! Under the law of Adverse Possession, more than the required 21 years has been allowed to pass without an owner ever blocking off or preventing public usage at least for a full day, once a year. Interestingly, Cryer’s Hardware on South Main Street took note of this fact, and blocked off their alley this way. This preserved their private property rights. But since the Logan Inn has NEVER done this, and public traffic uses the road continually, it is now a public road under the law of Adverse Possession.

Additionally, the Borough of New Hope has maintained the road and Cannon Square as its own for decades — snowplowed, cut the grass, planted seasonal flowers, etc. Indeed, this is the community Christmas tree, where the public gathers for the tree lighting. Is the Logan Inn going to compensate New Hope for these many decades of maintenance? What is the assurance that Cannon Square will be as well tended as it is now? The Borough of New Hope needs to slow things down and not be in such a hurry to give away this asset.

Also, the “old cannon” is so much more than that! It is a Civil War-era Dahlgren gun designed by Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren, USN (1809-1870). He was born in Philadelphia, and was a favorite of Lincoln. His story is fascinating. There were several sizes of cannon, designated by the weight of the shells. (Yes, I know that the cannon balls that are there don’t fit!) In a pinch it could fire just about anything! There’s lots of information online if you want more details about the admiral and his cannons. This Dahlgren gun does not belong to New Hope! It is on loan from either the Naval Academy or West Point, I’m not sure which.

Now, you may ask, “why is it here?” Somewhat forgotten next to the cannon is a war memorial marker signifying some the names of those New Hopers who served 1917-1918 in World War I. Most New Hopers will be surprised to read this, but it’s there! Coincidentally, that makes this the 100-year anniversary! Maybe the American Legion would be interested in holding some sort of ceremony to remember these brave men. New Hope cared enough at one time to pay for such a nice marker, go and look at it!

This little triangle of land is meant to be a respectful reminder that some of our bravest in New Hope paid the ultimate price. The cannon is a valuable, historic artifact that we are lucky to have — it is iconic to New Hope and IS small town charm for many. Where else can generations of kids climb?

Finally, let me say that the existing odd traffic pattern has a natural “traffic calming” effect. It forces traffic to slow and cautiously enter South Main Street, not come zipping down West Ferry Street, only to ignore the stop sign at the bottom. A right turn onto Ferry Street would become an awkward effort. Another consideration is that by eliminating the road, access by fire engines is now farther away from the growing inn, causing a safety issue. For these and many esthetic reasons, please leave Cannon Square alone and in peace. It is a very special place in New Hope that deserves our care, respect and preservation!

Judy Williamson is the daughter of Stephen and Julia Gerenser, founders of one of New Hope’s first and most famous modern businesses, and a former member of the New Hope Historical Society. She has had an active career as a sales manager for area builders, and volunteered for many years as a sales and marketing board member of the New Jersey Builders Association.

(The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Free Press.)



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  • I have lived in New Hope my entire life and I am growing extremely irritated with these groups essentially destroying what makes the town unique and in turn a tourist destination. Its beginning to feel like 3 people own the whole town and they will be perfectly happy to turn it into a strip mall.

  • These Civil War monuments are a common feature in older town , Lambertville has its’ cannon alongside a towering marble obelisk. New Hope,”Lest we forget” our heritage leave this monument alone and don’t succumb to the pressure of an inn keepers commercial interests.

  • I cannot believe that the Boro still has not replaced the sidewalk along Bridge St from Rt 32 toward the canal. Forcing pedestrians into the street. And how long do people think those rotten wood “safety rails” are going to last. Businesses want to make money but just because they propose something, does not mean it is inevitable given the facts.

    • Thanks for putting your thoughts and name out here. Efforts to contact have been futile. Out of town right now but drop us a line. unable to include email address here but it’s the same..let us hear
      Jim and Laura

  • Arthur Sanders and Carl Lutz closed off that bit of street every year that they owned the Logan Inn. Carl told me they did it because that would retain ownership of the triangle of land the canon was on. Sometimes it was closed the day that Santa visited and the tree was lighted…

    • Hello Cynthia! It’s so nice to hear from you. I remember Carl and Artie with fondness, but even if they did block off the road, it was probably more than 21 years ago. I believe that under the law, the closure must be advertised and posted, just coincidentally closing the road for Santa doesn’t go to “intent”. I’m not a lawyer, but I did look up the requirements for adverse possession to occur. There are 6 basic requirements necessary. There must be actual possession and use. The use must be for a continuous 21 year period. The use must be hostile to the actual owners rights. (Check) There must be open and notorious use (in the legal sense). There must be exclusive possession, and finally, there may occasionally be something called “color of title”.

      Since New Hope has continually maintained and supported this property as its own for generations, there may be a challenge here, even if they DID block it off once a year. The Logan Inn never maintained either the road OR the Cannon Square.

      I suggest that our Borough Council put aside personal agenda and order a title search of the Logan Inn property so we can see who owns what. Then go from there.

      BTW, there was a famous case involving Rockefeller Center in New York years ago. They had a private street, which they did block off, advertise the closure, etc. for years. They finally just gave the street to the city. (Another solution.)

  • Outside of the fact that Judy Williamson seems to have no idea what restoration of the Logan Inn — and its original facade and open front and sides will do about the “tents” she objects to, she makes a series of assumptions about damage not warranted by the proposal and ignores benefits that some of us would enjoy.
    Let’s start with the implicit assumption that all the contents of the current cannon square would disappear, including the cannon, the tree, the memorial and so on. None of that is true. All will remain, only slightly relocated to the North, and a maintenance agreement is proposed.
    Next, let’s consider the other properties fronting on Ferry Street. The proposed relocation would benefit retailers opposite by increasing their visibility to pedestrians on Main Street. Increased side visibility won’t severely damage the Parry Mansion, will it?
    Now, as someone who drives down Ferry quite regularly, I want to comment on the so-called safety issues raised. I’ve never seen people racing down the street and turning while ignoring the stop sign, so that risk is invented. Taking a left turn onto Main is actually safer (with better sightlines for oncoming traffic from the left) if you go straight down than if you take the left-side angle. Finally, I’ve watched lots of vehicles turn up the portion to be eliminated thinking it was a one-way street — a formula
    for a head-on. What about fire trucks???? The comment makes no sense.
    I have some sympathy for the rant about the glass elevator associated with the Inn’s expansion to the North. However, that was a different planning matter, and decisions were already made by HARB and the Zoning Hearing Board. It is not appropriate (and probably procedurally illegal) to take prior decisions with which one disagrees as the basis for opposing another action and decision.
    No, I am not in the employ of, and have not been paid or encouraged to make this comment, by any parties involved with the Logan Inn.

  • Please tell me what is going to become of the little indoor mall across the street from the Logan inn? I thought that last summer is was going to be a farmers market
    Thank you for any information you have on this spot

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