Historical Hysteria and again it is all in a word :)

February 8, 2011 at 3:16 am 14 comments

‘Historic House”- 4th and Hamilton Lorain Ohio ( Charleston Village) empty for the last 35 years

So when is it Historical and what the hell difference does it make anyway? And why is ONE little word so damned important ?

On January 18th our new Community Development Director Mrs. Tracy Urdija made a statement before city council found here

referring to an area in South Lorain as being a Historic District. According to Mrs. Urdija this was causing a concern for a windows program for seniors that was under discussion”

“Not only do the seniors have to be income eligible, but there are certain areas of the city that we will not be able to go into to help them with windows. One of the areas will be South Lorain because that has been declared a Historic District. “

A survey of properties in the area known as Charleston Village and an area in South Lorain were part of a historical and architectural survey back in 1994.

I, as co-chair of Charleston Village Society Inc ( the preservation district ) started to receive some phone calls from worried residents and property owners about “historical status”

would they be able to put up their siding , new windows , paint etc here in the “village” because we were part of that survey in 1994 weren’t we- how is this going to effect us?

It seems my fellow residents/ property owners are pretty well read and had been looking at the packet of information found on the City of Lorain’s website with regard to “Historical Districts” and a letter to then Community Development Director Sandford Prudoff.

Are we a Historical District too – what does that mean ?

I answered

Not that I was aware – Charleston Village had never received any paperwork or information that we were deemed a”historical district “.

I checked the National Historic Register and no we weren’t listed and neither was South Lorain.

A few more phone calls to other “historians” and council people ensued. E-mails sent to Mayor Krasienko and council people were sent by yours truly as to the ongoing situation and a little research – there wasn’t much I could do on a Sunday.

But bright and early Monday morning I contacted previous Community Development people who had been around in 1994 and beyond to make sure my failing memory served me correctly. I also called the Ohio Historical Preservation Office to get things straight in my mind and then the phone rang:

HMMMMMMMMM well those of you that KNOW me know I have been suffering from lack of tolerance for spin- gobbledegook and politics as usual.

I am not going to be party of such nonsense anymore – I haven’t the patience. I don’t have an agenda, a job to keep, an office for which to run I am just me trying to cut through the crap.
ALL the people on the end of the “speaker phone” (which I consider the height of rudeness – but that is just me ) all they had to say in their professional capacity ( yeah they are getting paid to do this) ALL they had to say to me was

South Lorain is “eligible” for a Historic District Designation and as such when the city is using “federal dollars” we have to treat that area as a designated historic district when using federal funds .

BUT instead I was put into an adversarial position and given what I considered spin and gobbdlegook with intonation that was decidedly lacking in my opinion. – Not a good idea as regular readers will attest.

My problem is that when you mention “historical” anything -people panic they have visions of not being able to put up siding , add different windows, have the control of their own property wrenched away from them . I wanted the “professionals” to be more circumspect when using the term Historical and by telling members of city council that they would be unable to help seniors with windows because it was a historical district was just plain wrong.

However this little go around which lasted all day Monday did give yours truly an “education ” on Historical Designations properties on the National Historic Register and what it means to the lay person to live in a “historically significant” structure or area.

Unless you are using federal funding you are not bound to have any certain types of windows, colours etc. As long as you are using your own private money it means squat. Oh there are areas that have their own codes but in Lorain……….

A Historical District Designation just gives you a “pride of place”, a travel and tourism destination and you can get a 20% tax break when rehabbing such properties. But there aren’t any extra maintenance regulations for you the lay person ( apart from the local ordinances that cover such property maintenance) AND if those aren’t enforced welllllllll there you have it – netting around the building sound familiar?

National Historic Register 1982- Broadway Building – photo Morning Journal

Which probably explains why the Broadway Building, which is on the National Historic Register, is in such a state. And Yes! that building can be taken down using private dollars or non federal funds as can apparently any structure on the National Historic Register.

AND YES even with federal monies the City of Lorain CAN DO WINDOWS they just have to go through the process which does not, I am assured, take months.

This whole mishmash of confusion hinged on the word eligible, and what does one little word matter anyway ?

seems we are in a CRA mess because of the word “housekeeping’ and another little word UNLESS and then there was that Ohio Supreme Court decision that hinged on the word “deteriorating”

So excuse me if I am picky about what is being said by the “professionals” because you see we the community end up paying the bills when they misspeak.

I attended City Council tonight and the ordinance regarding the windows was sent back to committee for further discussion. Yes, I added to the confusion and also hopefully to the solution

Entry filed under: a Cow -elle opinion, Charleston Village, city of lorain, Open for Discussion, personal opinion. Tags: .

Unbidden- Behind the garden wall Linking Up- Blogging-Spreading the word

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Paula Tobias  |  February 8, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Last week I attended council and was struck by 2 Things:

    This is a 2009 (this has been sitting on a shelf for 2 yrs??!!) EECBG Grant (aka Taxpayers money)

    Of the $115,000 available, it appears only $89,500 of TAXPAYERS MONEY, is going towards windows.

    The balance: $25,500 is administrative fees (aka Comm. Development and the City) 20%!!

  • 2. Grammy  |  February 8, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Great job! I truly believe all citizens need to keep up on all this “stuff” that’s the only way to make informed decisions at the ballot box. For grants to GIVE money in administrative costs is an easy way to pad their budgets. To use words to circumvent what needs doing, and that’s after waiting almost 2 years to figure it out. Also, where did the interest from that money sitting around end up, in extra money to be spent on windows or in the bank account of the city?

  • 3. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 8, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    The thought struck me as I read about the window situation was the fact that instead of helping to facilitate doing something for constituents and helping to facilitate a solution instead what seemed to be happening was “road blocks” being thrown up…… instead of “can’t do” what is wrong with “we will do what we can”.

  • 4. Dennis Lamont  |  February 8, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    They write books about the endless supply of buildings on the national register that have been demolished.

    If you are in a historical district you put in historically correct windows ($$$$$$$$$). Your conservator ($$$$$$$$) researches the construction to determine historical construction and original fenestration ($$$$$$$$). Off comes the aluminum and vinyl siding and on goes the historical equivalent ($$$$$$$$$$). Absolutely wonderful ambiance ($$$$$$$$$$) if you can afford it.

  • 5. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 8, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Only if you are using federal dollars Dennis I spoke at length to OHPO yesterday and people still have property rights that is unless you sign a contract with an entity – say a private association or some other individual as part of living or buying such a property in the first place.

    I kept asking the same question different ways but when you accept federal funds and then you are under their conditions other wise your home is your castle 🙂

    For instance say a little house in that “eligible” South Lorain Historic District needs new windows and you the homeowner go to a big box store or a window company ( apart from the building codes etc in Lorain) you can buy and install the windows you want and can afford- BUT if you the homeowner are applying for the program which is federal funded by HUD then you and the city have to follow the rules of getting the windows OK’d by the OHPO – and yes there are stipulations but each case is dealt with individually and I am told they are extremely timely in handling each case.

    It is the same with demolition under the money that has been made available to the city they have to go through the process of getting those demos OK’d again FEDERAL funds- now my understanding is that when a negative such as a demo is OK’d in one of the areas such as South Lorain there is supposed to be a postitive ( historical aspect in return) this could be the rehabbing of another property or even “educational meetings on preservation” just depends I guess on the city how they handle the “postive aspect”.

    but They do do windows 🙂

  • 6. Anne Molnar  |  February 8, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Thank you Loraine for all your help and research on this entire matter.. Since June 25, 09, I have been fighting this battle about helping the low income seniors and hadicap with the energy conservation program in the instalation of windows. I was about to give up, but my good friend Loraine shed a new light and hope regarding Historical Districts.as she well explains in her researched articles.

    A committee on the windows legislation will be a meeting held on Monday, February 14, 2011 at 6 pm. Would greatly appreciate your presence at this meeting Loraine, so that you can share your information to the Administration, to all members of council and to the general public.

    Community involvement and shared interest makes good government decision making. Public imput of ideas is always important and welcomed.

  • 7. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 8, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Well I don’t know what benefit I can be but I will certainly try to be available. The point is that apart from the fact this window issue has taken so long and why? is a concern. We the public have to have trust in the fact that the information given to our legislative body is “accurate” concise as they are the ones deciding what to do with such information. This is why those who decimating the information get paid ………..

    Now if someone would do something about those “historic windows” or lack thereof on the house on 4th and Hamilton 😉 ( I know it is all tied up in paperwork and wills and courts now BUT what about the previous 34 year that we have been complaining………….. SIGH

  • 8. Liz  |  February 8, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Here’s my rant: The politicians in Lorain are not getting the job done. They have been in office for years, and what have they accomplished? It’s time to clean house.

  • 9. Dennis Lamont  |  February 9, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Click to access Preservation.pdf

    I can’t find the article from sometime last year where a gentleman was having difficulties with window replacement in a “historic district” in Elyria. I know the steel plant general office is on the historic record but is not in a historic district and it’s windows have been modernized. The formation of local “historic districts” is fraught with arguments very similar to highly restrictive zoning.

  • 10. Mark  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    “South Lorain is “eligible” for a Historic District Designation”.

    I’m eligible to be President of the United States, but that doesn’t make it so.

    Absolutely cracks me up.

    The majority of voters in this city seem to love the letter “D”. So, that’s what we get. And when one doesn’t do the job, maybe the next one will.

  • 11. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 9, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Again Dennis is depends on whether Federal funds were being used but if not there aren’t any restrictions UNLESS the gentleman signed a contract of some sort with the “historic distric” or if the city has put into efffect some restrictive zoning or rules or regs…… our city hasn’t been enforcing obviously from our housing stock even minimum building codes….. However again it is all about accountability or the lack thereof.( been there done that)

    sometimes we have to check on what we are being told ….

    I certainly was suprised and I called the OHOP and the chap that makes the determinations …… and yes the Johnson steel plant offices is on the National Historic Register you can find the list of all the properties in Lorain by following the link to the National Historic Register in the post.

  • 12. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 9, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Mark yeah I agree but looking at this from the OHOP view point their money was used and asked for by the city to fund the study and in doing so they took and inventory and declared eligibilty , the city then has to be held to some accountabilty to maintain the “inventory ” in that area if they are again using federal money…. trouble is that study is now 17 years old .. in the past three or four years I was told the OHOP has been “reminding” cities of their obligations 🙂

  • […] I am stirred to speak ( now I prepare the statements- as I can no longer be trusted to talk “off the top of my […]

  • […] a few days ago two accounts of the recent firing of Lorain Community Development Director Tracy Udrija (emphasis […]

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February 2011

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