Finding the claim there was no record of this hard to believe, I checked the Planning Commission minutes for myself and found it recorded twice. In the minutes for May 12, 2004:
This commitment was reiterated in the minutes from the public hearing, which took place on June 9, 2004:
When confronted with this evidence, Haigh was quick to inform me that it was insufficient to stay the demolition of the building, and, of course, he's right.
In a perfect world, the Historic Preservation Commission would have acted immediately in 2004 to designate the building as a local landmark, making a certificate of appropriateness from the HPC necessary if the building were to be demolished, but, alas, in 2004, the HPC was a fledgling commission, trying to navigate uncharted and hostile waters. A few months later, then mayor Rick Scalera suspended the preservation law that created the HPC after the commission tried to designate the courthouse and 400 State Street as individual landmarks. As a consequence of that action, the preservation law was revised to require Common Council approval for all historic designations--districts as well as individual properties. As a consequence of that revision, all the designations that now exist, with few exceptions, were made during a two-year period--2006-2007--when Scalera was not the mayor and the combination of the weighted votes of the Common Council president, the First and Third Ward aldermen, and one Second Ward alderman who was willing to go along with historic preservation so long as it did not affect his ward were sufficient to approve designations proposed by the HPC.
In years that have passed since the Firemen's Home stated they would preserve the 1906 building, there was ample time to get the building some legal protection, but taking the Firemen's Home at its word and considering it a small battle won, the self-appointed guardians of our architectural heritage moved on to other things.
|Photo: John Peterson|
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