Facing a bulwark of opposition, the owners of Littleton’s Melting Pot restaurant withdrew their proposal to build a pair of pergolas in front of the historic building on May 7. Amy and Kyle Reed, …
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Facing a bulwark of opposition, the owners of Littleton’s Melting Pot restaurant withdrew their proposal to build a pair of pergolas in front of the historic building on May 7.
Amy and Kyle Reed, who own the high-end fondue restaurant housed in the historic former Carnegie library at the west end of Main Street, had sought a rollback of a longstanding easement that prohibited them from obstructing the view of the landmark that bookends the downtown strip. Their business depends on outdoor seating, the couple said.
The proposal encountered pushback in April: City staff published a recommendation against the proposal, and the city’s Historical Preservation Board voted unanimously against it. Historic Littleton Inc., a nonprofit preservation group, opposed the proposal in a letter-writing campaign.
The Reeds had one last shot: a hearing before city council, which was scheduled for May 7.
But the couple pulled the proposal the day of the hearing, saying it was clear they didn’t have the necessary support.
“We didn’t see any point in moving forward,” Amy Reed said. “Hopefully we can come to a compromise with the city that doesn’t involve changing the conservation easement.”
Littleton Mayor Debbie Brinkman said city council would have given the Reeds a fair shake, but said the opposition from city staff and a city board definitely carried weight.
“That would certainly have an impact on council’s decision-making,” Brinkman said. “Those are trusted advisers. When historic things go away, they go away forever. You don’t build history — you preserve history.”
The Reeds sought permission to build permanent structures in front of the building after city staff directed them to remove a pair of temporary tents used to keep outdoor diners warm in the winter in recent years, Amy Reed said.
A letter from the city planning department mandating the removal of the tents, sent last November, outlined the Reeds’ one possible recourse: ask the city for an amendment to a 1983 law preserving the view of the building’s facade from Main Street.
Amy Reed said she felt miffed that the city laid out the course of action, then issued a recommendation to deny the proposal.
Mike Sutherland, the head of the city’s planning department, did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The withdrawal of the pergola proposal means the tents need to come down and stay down, Brinkman said, adding she’s glad the city will get the vista of the old library back.
Getting an unobstructed view of the library back will help restore an important element to Littleton’s iconic main drag, said Gail Keeley, the director of Historic Littleton Inc.
“Downtown is a historic district, bounded on one end by the library and the other end by the old courthouse, and we haven’t been able to enjoy that view down Main Street for years,” Keeley said.
Being forced to go without outdoor seating in the winter could spell trouble for the Melting Pot’s future, the Reeds said in April, saying years of minimum wage increases and rising health care costs meant they needed the extra tables to stay afloat.
Still, Amy Reed said she’s hopeful there are other options to be explored.
“We have a long history with the city of Littleton,” Reed said. “By and large they’ve been supportive and worked with us. I’m hopeful we can come to a compromise that works for everybody.”
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