My history in the South End
I read Susan Halpern’s article (Dec. 2 op-ed, “Saving history in the South End”) and thought it needed answering. Born on Harbor Street more years ago that I want to admit, my grandparents purchased land to house their growing family. The South End was a farm at that time and was the perfect place for new immigrants coming from Poland and other Eastern European Countries to settle with their families.
The Yale & Town Lock Manufacturing Company at that time was the city’s largest employer. Then came Pitney Bowes and their invention of the Postage Meter, which we all thought would last forever. The old Shick Razor Company still stands on Atlantic and Garden Streets, waiting for renewal.
Yes, we have a lot of history in the South End and my family and I were and are a part of it. After World War II things started to change, the old Polish, Russian and Greek families started to move out, second- and third-generation families sought their own identities and started to populate Glenbrook, Springdale, High Ridge and to go out of town where land and housing was more affordable.
The South End was always a working class neighborhood with affordable housing of no great historical value. The older residents moved or passed away and new people moved into the South End. The Russian and Greek Churches sold their buildings and their congregations moved. There was a long time that the South End was the lead article in the Stamford Advocate, one of their editors told me at that time that good news does not sell newspapers.
Come to our present time, the Yale & Town site had a devastating fire, Pitney Bowes decided to downsize. There is a great loss of jobs and vacant buildings, some with environmental problems are sold to the developer Antares, with a plan to redevelop the South End. We who always thought that the “South End will rise again” were encouraged with hope for the future.
The South End NRZ was born, of which I proudly say I was a founding member. They took the lead and every development plan was discussed at their monthly meetings. Antares then sold their operation to Building & Land Technology, who were developers from Norwalk at that time. The biggest problem in the South End was B & S Carting. BLT bought B & S Carting as they promised the NRZ.
Now we come to today, 2018, and BLT wants to build a residential building on the old B & S Carting property and Ms. Halpern wants to hold BLT hostage. In the last 10 years Stamford was the only city in Connecticut to have a positive employment rate, thanks to the planning and vision of BLT.
We are a city alive and well. Are we perfect? No one is. If you have never been to Harbor Point I invite you to visit the park, restaurants and waterfront walkway, it will be worth your time. Activities are frequently held there for all to enjoy, not just for the residents of Harbor Point.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.
Al Koproski is a Stamford resident.
Visitors look at booths during the fourth annual Stamford Art Festival in the Harbor Point area of Stamford in July.