Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why the Preservation Community needs real leadership, Not CPA

In my 25 year of so as a preservationist I have belonged to over 50 community groups and Preservation Organizations. I have dedicated countless hours to the cause, donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Preservation efforts across the country, I have sat on a number of boards, been President of 6 neighborhood organizations. Last night I sent an email to Paul Muller director of CPA advising him that both Greg and I were resigning out membership in CPA as we could no longer support, or have our reputations associated, with an organization content to sit on the sidelines while South.Fairmount is under threat of decimation by MSD and the city.

I have tried to work with CPA, but I have come to the conclusion that those efforts are wasted on an organization that is afraid to stand up for preservation interests or to stand up to the city and are more worried more about their 'social circle' status, than actually doing the hard work of being a strong advocate for historic preservation in this city.

CPA has failed to provide real leadership on the Gamble House , that effort has been led by others, They failed to provide a strong voice in Corryville or the demolitions by Cincinnati Public Schools or the Wheatly Tile building demos in OTR. They continue to support "half way fixes" for the VBML issue rather than strongly advocate for its elimination.  The Hauck House, for one example, needs serious  restoration. On the proposed MSD demolitions in South Fairmount, they have sat on their hands while Knox Hill a small, upstart preservation based neighborhood group formed in 2008 to preserve its own neighborhood, fights to save historic buildings not even in its boundaries.

Make no mistake, the losses in South Fairmount will be the largest loss of historic architecture since the 1960's when the freeway was built. In any other city I have EVER worked in, a local Preservation Group like CPA would be holding meetings and town halls, they would be issuing press releases, working with state and national preservation resources on this. There would be petition drives, meetings with the city council, a legal team would be put together. The front page of their website would feature this issue. They would be engaging their membership on this issue. In short, their would be REAL LEADERSHIP on this very serious issue because that is what preservation organizations are supposed to do.

Cincinnati Preservation Association has not exhibited those leadership qualities I expected and seem content to let others do all the heavy lifting. We need a REAL Preservation organization. The days of "country club, elitist, feel good "red hat society" preservation are over and CPA's lack of leadership is the reason why this city loses hundreds of historic buildings every year and CPA only has 350 members.

So for now, Knox Hill will fight to save Fairmount, because the people who should be leading the charge seem content to sit on the sidelines and do nothing!

I hope the preservation community in Cincinnati can form a real  Preservation based organization that actually is willing to do the hard work of Historic preservation and I am willing to lend my support and time to one but I can not waste our time and efforts with  CPA as I have buildings to save.

I hope our resignations from CPA are a  wake up call to their board and other preservationists, as well as their current membership about what a Preservation organization is supposed to do.  We need real leadership and Preservation in this city or we will lose more of our great architecture. CPA will be "irrelevant" because one day their will be nothing "historic' left if they stay on their current path of inaction..

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