Friday, June 26, 2009

'Blight" or 130 Yrs of History: Gone in a day

As I posted yesterday I received an call from one of my neighbors Mark Elstun that a house that was under remediation for impending demolition was the victim of an "apparent" arson fire. The city had decided this "blighted' house needed to come down and someone decided to "help' them by setting a fire. A total of two homes were affected and a dumpster (see last photo).The first three photos are of another house on Baltimore and illustrate its destruction yesterday.

So "blighted', a structure so dangerous it needed to come down, took a huge bulldozer to bring it down. Apparently the once pristine Victorian stood as long as she could against the onslaught of the bull dozer.
You have to ask yourself "WHY' our city thinks that the only way to "improve" a neighborhood is to destroy it leaving a vacant lot that will sit there and be overgrown for 20-30 years. I try to understand the "logic" in this but somehow it escapes me. Maybe we should ask our city council and our mayor? There is now ONE house on that block, so Mt Mayor please explain to me how that is a neighborhood any more. What Value have you added? What improvement have you made to the lives of the neighbors? Wait there isn't a neighborhood anymore because you have systematically bulldozed most of Fairmount over the last few years!

When most major US cities have long ago learned that Urban renewal by bulldozer is a total failure our city seems intent on looking like Detroit. Other US cities have programs: "Adopt a house", "New again", $1.00 house, and a host of others to SAVE homes not demo them. Often these programs are funded by state or Federal monies or even Corporation who understand the value of historic restoration and preservation. Why our history is so important.
Maybe Cincinnati is just a "good ole boy" network where city officials and their contractor friends need to keep each other busy? Do we need to keep the dumpster companies in business that bad and what happens to our landfill and how much more expensive will it be to put items there.

Does it serve the interests of the community to put tons of old growth 200 plus yr old lumber in a landfill? Not to mention trim boards, Transoms, original clapboarding, pine floors, ALL material that could have at least helped someone else in their restoration?
"Blight=Bulldozer" makes no sense. It is not cost effective, it takes property off the tax rolls and you and I will pay higher taxes in the future because of a shrinking property taxbase. The preservation community needs to focus more on this issue, In fact it needs to be campaign issue. Council members and this mayor need to come forth with a plan on just how they will stop this practice. No Plan=no vote. Neighborhoods like OTR are at that 50 percent tipping point do we need to demo Price Hill, Fairmount and Westwood as well. What IS the agenda of this city government?

Photos courtesy Mark Elstun

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