Your recent article on Wainwright House challenges (August 26) was informative. There is, however, a flaw in the statements of current overseers. The revenues needed to meet their spiritual mission – and thereby recoup their non-profit status – is nowhere near what they say is needed to currently fund the 5-acre, three-building complex. Most of their mission-specific activities are small, and could be accommodated in the original Fonrose Wainwright House (WH) on the site. This would sustain the lovely views and historic site, but at a fraction of the current costs the wedding business requires.
Ms. Craig states Wainwright serves 1,000 individuals a year, but that number is often in small groups. And the number pales in comparison to the usual 250 per wedding – which has the potential to bring a total of 8,000 guests a year onto the site with 30 to 32 wedding receptions — and even 3,000 with the new lower number of weddings imposed. The mansion and expansive lawns, the several structures to store wedding reception furniture, cooking equipment, etc., are needed only for their commercial venture – the wedding hall business — not for their non–profit activities.
The revenues they say they must raise each year are ironically needed only for the activities they have no legal right to conduct. They reside in an R-1 residential district in Rye, which does not allow commercial use.
The WH board has invested thousands of dollars to change the historic landscape and level the ground to accommodate the huge 4,600 square-foot tents; and to install plantings along a path that leads the bride and wedding party toward the edge of the bluff for the occasion, constructing two new stone walkways to the beach, a large asphalt parking lot which is kinder to high-heeled shoes than the original bluestone, and high, bright lighting.
This is a major commercial business, not a group aspiring to maintain its contemplative and spiritual mission.
Surely Rye and its citizens would benefit from a private resident in the beautiful mansion (which would surely draw buyers, and who would pay taxes) and a small spiritual center in Fonrose’s house, rather than the loud and raucous summer business now in place.