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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.