It's this or anarchy

This or anarchy: From the Dominion of Dumb

house539I love history. I love historic buildings.

But here’s something from the Dominion of Dumb.

The City of Hutchinson rightly wants to do an emergency demolition of a house at 539 E. Avenue A. It hasn’t been painted in decades, but that’s just the beginning. There are holes in the roof, missing windows, missing plaster or sheet rock, broken pavement and on and on.

It is, in the expert opinion of the city Inspection Department and Fire Department “unsafe and uninhabitable.”

But it’s in the Houston Whiteside Historic District, which means the Kansas Historical Society gets to meddle, pointlessly in this case.

On May 1, the Historical Society sent a letter saying: “Although the building appears to be irreparable, removing it without plans to replace it with compatible new construction does not meet the (U.S.) Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation as its remove will change the site and setting of this part of the historic district. Demolition of this building will encroach upon and damage (emphasis added) the Houston-Whiteside Historic District.”

Really? This house has been a poster child for decades of deteriorating Hutchinson housing. It’s very existence in this deplorable condition has been damaging the district for years. Ask anyone. Its demolition may leave a “missing tooth” in the block until someone buys the lot and rebuilds, but for the time being it’s a matter of addition by subtraction.

Fortunately, there’s a way out from under the Historical Society’s opinion. In authorizing the demolition, the City Council merely has to also determine that there is “no feasible and prudent alternative” to demolition. However, ANYONE who feels “aggrieved” by that decision could still file a suit and ask the courts to decide the case.


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