Wednesday, August 15, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: South Fairmount Community Council to explore National Registry nomination for South Fairmount basin

In a  bold move and by near unanimous vote, the South Fairmount Community Council voted to explore the application for National Historic District status for the South Fairmount  Business/residential basin along Queen City and Westwood Blvds.

The  move took place tonight, after a Friday meeting in which SFCC president and VP were given the  "Impacted list" of properties that could face demo. The recent report, prepared by Gray and Pape for MSD  identified 29 historic eligible properties in in the Area of Potential Effect (APE report). Both Knox Hill Neighborhood and the South Fairmount  business groups were not invited to this meeting raising questions of if MSD may have violated the state sunshine laws by excluding vocal critics of the plan.

Significant impacted properties include the Vitt and Stermer Building and 4 others. One already owned by MSD the St Bonaventure Nunnery was on documents I reviewed. More troubling to area residents were that  all currently owned MSD properties would be demoed for the project as they were not evaluated as part of potential historic district, under which many might be contributing structures.

The vote and move by SFCC comes just two days before the first of two Town Halls held as part of the public comment process where the public would provide opinion on whether the deep tunnel (already approved by consent decree vs the daylighting approach whose price tag has risen dramatically, to where now there is little, if any, cost savings and the loss of a huge historic assets in South Fairmount. While MSD has maintained no decision has been made, many in the community feel MSD has made a decision  some time ago when they started buying property via the County, and  that decision would result in the practical elimination of South Fairmount as a community.

A National Registry nomination could throw a monkey wrench into MSD's plans , but it is clear that neither Knox Hill, SFCC, or the South Fairmount Business group are "on board" with MSD's plans. That may be problematic for MSD , given the consent decree specifies the deep tunnel as the default position, and significant opposition to the daylighting plan could make EPA and the Federal Court side with Community interests over  MSD's "plan' which many have labeled a rate payer 'boondoggle'.

This move by SFCC definitely changes the dynamic of the public comment phase of the Lick Run Project.

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