Welcome center roils tourist destination Newport

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NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) — A proposal to build a visitors center on the grounds of the Gilded Age mansion and national historic landmark The Breakers is dividing preservationists, neighbors, and even some family members in a Rhode Island city where tourism is its lifeblood.

The 70-room Newport mansion built by railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt II draws 400,000 visitors annually. The nonprofit group that owns it says it wants to offer them better restrooms, ticketing and snacks.

But critics say the center should be built across the street so the estate is not irreparably damaged.

Designer Gloria Vanderbilt fears that "shrink-wrapped sandwiches" would greet visitors to the estate her grandfather built.

The plan was rejected by the city's Historic District Commission, but the group is appealing the decision to the zoning board Monday.

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