A battle for the historic soul of Newport's great mansions is underway. On one side - the Preservation Society of Newport County has abandoned its core values for the lure of big bucks that an intrusive entertainment center may deliver. On the other - a community of people who care about The Breakers, and all our great landmarks, committed to preserving Newport's historic integrity.
It is easy, but lazy and unfair, to cast this debate as "rich people fighting." Labeling objections "NIMBYism" - as your Jan. 17 editorial did ("A proper welcome for Breakers visitors") - is superficial and wrong. In fact, the neighbors have proposed, quite reasonably, to place the visitors' center across the street, off the hallowed ground of The Breakers.
Something else is happening. There's big money to be made by violating the integrity of The Breakers. Why else would the Preservation Society (PSNC) spend over $1 million on legal fees, public relations and a parade of consultants (and a fundraising target of $5.9 million) to obtain mere bathrooms and vending machines? Bathrooms could have been upgraded long ago, and placed in the parking lot. Newport's other cultural organizations would happily collaborate on a central information center with the digital sophistication seen at Monticello, benefiting tax-paying downtown business and reducing traffic.