Borough Candidate Truilo:  We Must Protect Chatham’s Architectural Sensibility

As we look to the future in Chatham Borough, we must make sure that the new fits in with the old and existing architecture that makes Chatham Borough special. As a Borough Council member, I can bring my eye for design and understanding of planning to make sure that happens.

Architects have a fancy word for architectural sensibility – “Contextualism.” This means an architect designing a new building should take his cues from surrounding structures so that the new shape and form complements the fabric of what currently exists.

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When I started designing the Dunkin' Donuts on Main Street almost 15 years ago, I took my inspiration from the neighboring William Pitt historic district and designed a quaint “Colonial” building that fits in nicely with the existing architectural framework of the neighborhood.

As co-chair of the Historic Preservation Commission, I have acted as a steward of Chatham’s heritage and historic aesthetic and helped hold the line on over-scaled development.  I was an immediate and adamant voice against a proposed 5-story project behind the Bradley Funeral Home that measured longer than a football field. I have reviewed projects in our historic district not just on their own design merits, but also in terms of how they fit in with the community.  

The current parking lot, post office sorting facility and aging deli behind our main street do offer potential. This area is not currently at its “highest” or “best use” as architects and planners would say. However, the most recent proposal that we saw for the area was a horror show – completely out of scale with our community.

My vision for Post Office Plaza is to develop this property as a “village within a village” with smaller structures that enhance our downtown instead of detracting from it.  This could create a new town square complete with mercantile uses on the ground floor with residential above, all designed in ‘Colonial Style’ architecture - instead of the current proposal, which calls for the urbanization of our downtown.

Staying true to Chatham’s historical character is something that I have fought for in my service on the commission and that I have upheld in my own work as an architect on projects for our town. I look forward to continuing this advocacy as a Borough Council member. 

Frank Truilo, Architect

Candidate for Chatham Borough Council