Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Preservationists see hope in battle to save Historic Gamble House : Council calls for public hearing

Preservationists see some hope in the battle to save the Gamble House as several events have unfolded putting ever increasing pressure on Greenacres.org to do right thing and allow the Gamble House to be saved.

Last week work began on trenches to move electrical service from the main house to the accessory structure and workman began moving material from the main house to the barn. That activity escalated with additional items being physically removed from the house including stained glass windows and a door.

The Cincinnati Enquirer published an article in which among other things it noted that several people had filed complaints with the State of Ohio Attorney Generals office asking the AG's office in investigate Greenacres.org to see if the board and certain officers were in fact in compliance with state law and state guidelines regarding the proper disposal of a donated asset (the Gamble House and land) which was donated by Louise Nippert to Greenacres.org.  The AG's office has been flooded of late with phone calls and emails asking for quick action. Many are asking that the state go to court to seize the Gamble House in order to protect a donated asset.. Some of those who filed complaints have been contacted by a Major Case Investigator, of the Charitable Law Division of the Attorney Generals office. The state will not confirm is a formal investigation is underway, but many speculate that since an investigator appears to have been assigned that some form of investigation is underway and the complaints are being taken seriously..

While that push is still ongoing, Councilman Charles Winburn announced he believed the city should pursue an eminent domain action to acquire the locally landmarked Gamble House as part of a West side park to be formed on the site. On Tuesday the council Livable Communities Committee met and many people spoke in support of the use of eminent domain to acquire the property. The council will hold a public hearing on the issue. The date has not yet been set but supporters of the Gamble House see this as positive step.

Perhaps the biggest change was a court order issues by Federal Judge Susan J Dlott of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Western Divison. The order compelled Greenacres.org to return the items removed back to the Gamble House. Many neighbors were concerned the house might have been hours away from demolition. The property has no active approved demo permits and Greenacres.org is appealing a VBML order by the city that would require the building be brought up to standard.

After the livable cities meeting. Carter Randolph was quoted as saying "It's up to the city what they want to do. If they want to take the property by eminent domain, then so be it".

Some see that statement that Greenacres.org may be crumbling under the national negative exposure and numerous fronts the organization must now defend itself on, others see it as they will 'dig in and there will be a long protracted battle over the eminent domain issue, should the city pursue it..

One thing that does remain at this point is the Gamble House, still standing and a little worse for wear, months after greenacres.org announced their intent to demo it. Many view the fact that it is still standing as testament to the will of the people, who want to see a symbol of Westwood and the city of Cincinnati's history to be preserved for future generations.

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