Stanstead art gallery closes citing erosion worries
By William Crooks
Local Journalism Initiative
An art gallery in Stanstead, Ye Olde Blacksmith, has closed indefinitely due to its proximity to the Tomifobia river and erosion worries. The Record spoke with its owner, Gabriel Safdie, and Stanstead mayor Jody Stone for more information.
“[The river] affects me in two ways,” Safdie began, mentioning that he also owns the nearby cinema. A lane has been washed away by the river beside his art gallery that provides the sole access (by car) to a nearby house, he added. “It’s quite a situation.”
The gallery was closed for safety reasons, he clarified, after the major erosion occurred and he and Stone walked around the site to inspect the damage. The situation is precarious, he said, for the art gallery building is “flush with the river”. The ground floor windows open out to a “dramatic” view of the river waters as they rush by. Thankfully, the cinema basement is bone dry, he said.
“The town is very much at fault and… finally owned up to its responsibility,” he said. After Stone became mayor, Safdie said, the town phoned him up and said they were “’misinformed by their lawyers’”. Even then, he noted, “nothing happened”.
Nearby Pizzeria Steve, which overhangs the river, installed a new retaining wall that saved the building from “the damage that started happening about a year ago”. Safdie insists he could not do the same thing because the area in question is not his land. “The town owns it.” The town sewage pipe is now exposed, he said, so they will have to deal with it now no matter what. Safdie emphasized he sent a “lawyer’s letter” to the town about this long before the recent damage and that “they were very much alerted”.