Historic society still waiting on demolition decision
Historic preservation Board president won’t say if proposal is on meeting agenda
By Darcie Loreno
More than one month after the Historical Society submitted its proposal for the demolition of the A.N. Myers House, it’s still waiting for approval from the Historic Preservation Board.
While preservation board president Kathy Aldrich said the board will have its next regular meeting Aug. 2, she wouldn’t say if its agenda included the society’s proposal.
“Right now, that’s all I know,” she said, referring to the date.
The society during a June 19 preservation board meeting submitted a plan to tear down the 408 Center St. Home due to financial issues. While the home was purchased in 1998 with plans to renovate, society officials said after Dr. Lewis Kang vacated the building last year a feasibility study concluded nearly $1 million would be needed to bring the building up to code.
They reported much deterioration - such as rusty sewer lines, old plumbing and wiring and damage from a fire - inside and that many of the home’s historical features had been removed over the years. They hope to demolish the building and build a new structure smaller than, but similar to, the A.N. Myers home to be used for a society facility.
The proposal was followed by mixed feelings in the neighborhood, on the preservation board and the Center Street Historic District Association.
The Society had agreed with an offer from the association to have an architect look at the Myers home so it could take a position. That was completed last week, said association secretary, Christina Portz, and it should take “a week or two before we see anything” as far as a report from the architect.
The situation has brought to light concerns from Mayor Bill Strine who recently said he and other city officials are looking into areas of the board’s ordinance he believes needs tweaked.
He plans to get a list of suggestions and other items to get moving on to the roughly one year old board. Those include requirements for designation as a certified local government, something needed to open the district up to grants and funding.
He also believes requirements for the board are too restrictive. Now, the five member board must include an architect, a preservation-related official, two property owners from within the district and one resident of the city . Most members now are Center Street residents, and the mayor believes that might cause a bias.
He said there should be an “ex-officio” member from the city’s Building and Zoning office to help with documentation and other issues.
Council established the preservation board last year after a push from Center Street residents following several meetings and work sessions.
“I feel that it’s just taking some adjustment after we got the board in place to get some things done,” Strine said of the changes. “We’re slowly getting there.”
Meanwhile, Aldrich said it’s been decided the preservation board will meet the third Monday of each month at 5p.m. In the Municipal Building. The board has voted regarding other issues, such as roofing, since it’s been formed.
“Technically, there have only been two meetings,” she said. “We’re just kind of working through it. It’s a learning process.
Council established preservation board last year.