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City Council again delays vote on Elks demolition

First Ward Councilman Chris Jones bows his head during discussion on whether to demolish the historic Elks Building on 110 N. Sandusky Street

First Ward Councilman Chris Jones bows his head during discussion on whether to demolish the historic Elks Building on 110 N. Sandusky Street

After hearing additional information from county officials and further opposition from city residents supporting preservation, the Council declined to vote on whether they would allow demolition of the Elks Building on North Sandusky Street as part of the County’s new courthouse design.

A key concern, particularly for Councilman Jones, was that preserving the Elks Building at the expense of a new courthouse could lead the County to build a larger courthouse facility outside of the downtown, which would draw many local law offices out of that area.

Related: Council delays vote on Elks Building demolition and more, from June 26

Delaware County Juvenile Court Administrator David Hejmanowski also expressed this concern after the floor was opened to public comment preceding the decision not to vote.

He added that even if Council voted against demolition, he feared the Elks Building would “sit there and rot,” leading to demolition by neglect.

Opponents, including Larry and Marian Vance, respectively a masonry restoration contractor and president of Preservation Ohio, again focused on the house’s historic nature and argued for greater efforts to build the courthouse around or incorporate it’s facade into the courthouse.

Larry Vance takes notes before speaking; he and his wife Marian (to his right) both spoke to oppose demolition of the Elks Building.

Larry Vance takes notes before speaking; he and his wife Marian (to his right) both spoke to oppose demolition of the Elks Building.

Third Ward Councilman Joe DiGenova also asked about whether elements of the facade could be used in the new courthouse design, and the County’s architect, Steve Kenat of GBBN Architects, said they’re looking at taking cues from it.

Kenat said that incorporating the physical front of the Elks Building would conflict with the parking garage behind the courthouse and their plans to use the new courthouse to create better access to the Hayes Building regarding court security.

“The new courts building shouldn’t necessarily be held hostage by the presence of a 100-year old home adjacent to it,” said Kenat.

Architect Steve Kenat holds a sticker up showing that, earlier in the day, he attended a community meeting in Cincinnati supporting preservation of a historic museum, there in an effort to show his opponents that he understood their concerns.

Architect Steve Kenat holds a sticker up showing that, earlier in the day, he attended a community meeting in Cincinnati supporting preservation of a historic museum, there in an effort to show his opponents that he understood their concerns.

“It’s not that we as Commissioners are trying to tear down the history of Delaware city, we’re trying to find a compromise that allows us to save – I believe, and I can only speak for myself – buildings of historical value that are still in a condition to be saved,” said County Commissioner Gary Merrell, President of the Commissioners.

After a long period of discussion and questions between Council members, County staff and local residents, Fourth Ward Councilman Andrew Brush requested the fifth reading at the next meeting on August 11.

Following this, Brush and City Manager Tom Homan commented on the landmark importance of the Sawmill Parkway expansion, but citizens’ attendance had dwindled to three, excluding Commissioner Merrell, after the Elks Building discussion was temporarily settled.

The attendance dwindled after the Elks Building discussion was tabled; most seats were filled then.

The attendance dwindled after the Elks Building discussion was tabled; most seats were filled then.

Other matters discussed and voted on included ordinances for rezoning of Forman Insurance Agency at 377 E. William Street, a permit for the city to make improvements to the Public Works facility, and appropriations ordinances to compensate the Clerk of Council and remove two low head dams on the Olentangy River.

Community Development Manager Shari Thomas, of Girl Scouts of Ohio, gave a presentation on “The State of Girls” and their efforts to promote inclusivity and work with area schools, following the Pledge of Allegiance being led by Girl Scouts of various local troops.

Shari Thomas of Girl Scouts of Ohio's Heartland Council gives her presentation on "State of Girls" and leadership.

Shari Thomas of Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland Council gives her presentation on “State of Girls” and leadership.

Peggy Guenther also provided input on the Dog Park committee during the public comment portion of the Council meeting. Ohio Wesleyan University’s chaplain Jon Powers opened the meeting with an invocation celebrating and seeking harmony as conflicts continue in Ukraine, Gaza and around the world.

“God of every faith and every face, we pause to ponder in amazing grace, that in this world so whirled about by war, we can meet here in this place of peace,” he said.

Ohio Wesleyan's Chaplain Powers begins to read his invocation at the start of the meeting.

Ohio Wesleyan’s Chaplain Powers begins to read his invocation at the start of the meeting.

About Spenser Hickey

Spenser Hickey is the DelawareO's reporter for the City Hall beat and a photographer. Providing bi-weekly summaries of Delaware City Council meetings, he seeks to inform and explore the local issues that define Delaware. A senior Journalism major at Ohio Wesleyan, he has also written for the Dayton Daily News, Springfield News-Sun and The Transcript, OWU's independent student newspaper.

Comments

  1. Michael Stout says:

    Oh yes, by all means, let’s tear down the original. The beautiful. The well built that has stood for generations. And in its place, let’s throw the public’s money into some cheaply built modern structure that pays homage–through imitation and faux detail–to the rich, historic building it swept away. What a sad, short-sighted civilization we have become that the only solutions we seem to see are those that cannibalize our long-lasting past in favor of something that won’t last even half as long as the original.

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