Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Dear "Preservation Santa", My Cincinnati Preservation 'Wish List"
Dear "Preservation Santa"
Thank you for all the gifts you have given us this year, The hidden stencil designs, the carved stonework we have found at the Nagele Merz House have been very rewarding. You have given me so much this year I really don't need anything myself this year but I'd like to ask for a few things for my preservation friends throughout Cincinnati:
1. SAVE THE GAMBLE HOUSE. I don't care how you do it, maybe it will be by a change of heart by the board of Greenacres.org, maybe by a receivership action or eminent domain? Maybe the nice folks at the State Attorney Generals office will simply take it away from that 'so called' charity. The Gamble House is the "Poster Child' for Preservation in this city. It has brought thousands together from across the country to save a great house owned by a great man. By the way, I still have some Coal in my basement, take as much as you need for Carter Randolph's stocking, he's been VERY BAD this year!
2. ELIMINATE THE VBML ORDINANCE: What was a 'good idea 14 years ago is not relevant in today's real estate market. While we 'cling to the past" cities like Indianapolis and Louisville have largely turned around their historic Urban neighborhoods. We need incentives, not R&R (Redtape & Roadblocks).
3.) RETIRE THE CITY VACANT BUILDING TASK FORCE TEAM : Let us get back to real "repair order" based enforcement like other major cities. At a time when the city is financially strapped, we do not need two inspectors (1 for occupied buildings , 1 for Vacant buildings) driving cars around the same neighborhood. One inspector is plenty and you can distribute the workload better.
4.) PLEASE TAKE AWAY LARRY HARRIS'S "RUBBER STAMP": We do not need properties "rubber stamped" as non contributing when they really are. Please get Larry some Preservation training so he understands his job is to Protect this city's history not help Sean Minihan destroy it. Larry seems like a nice enough guy he just need some education. Let's ALL work together to create a meaningful Section 106 review process and lets start the process of removing structures from the nuisance list that should not be there in the first place.
5) A DEDICATED HOUSING COURT: With all the money we save by not demoing things lets fund a full time housing court to enforce repair orders that our now focused inspectors will write. Lets not treat well intentioned people who want to restore Cincinnati like Criminal slumlords but focus our energy on the really bad people who really do not care about our history.
6) A HISTORIC PROPERTY LANDBANK: Whether its a city entity or some kind of Non profit/City co-operative venture we need a Landbank to hold deserving properties until owners can be found for them.
7) HELP BREAK THE CITY "ADDICTION" TO FEDERAL FUNDS: Please help city officials understand that just because we can get Federal Demo money , it does not mean we need to take it. Let us use our CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) Funds for facade grants and maybe to fund groups like OTR ADOPT and other who are trying to save our neighborhoods not destroy them. Blight does not equal Bulldozer... "Blight=Opportunity", the opportunity to restore our neighborhoods and grow our tax base. A moratorium on demolitions would be nice and approval of ANY demolitions by the council would be a good idea.
8) HELP THE COUNCIL UNDERSTAND: Educate the city council as to the value of Historic Preservation as an Economic Development tool. Teach them that a demoed house creates no property tax revenue and is a liability to the city. Help them create 'balance' on the Nuisance Board by it being a board made up of not just supervisors of the inspectors bringing the cases, but citizens of the neighborhoods as well.
9) PRESERVATION INCENTIVES: lets raise the tax abatement level to 500,000.00 to encourage the restoration of larger homes like those on Dayton street, Avondale and Walnut Hills. Let us rewrite our overly complicated permit structure and make it simpler and lets give those who decide to tackle any house currently on the VBML/Condemn/Nuisance list a 50 percent reduction of permit fees, or, no permit fees.
10) WATCH OVER OUR HISTORIC NEIGHBORHOODS: Watch over Sedamsville, Lower Price Hill, Knox Hill and all our other small endangered neighborhoods. At a time when we are coming back, protect us from those with "No Clue" about the value of historic preservation and why these "less than grand" neighborhoods are just as important to save.
Thanks Preservation Santa!