One of the major topics discussed at the last city council meeting was the 76-78 Cherry Street building which is owned by the Catholic diocese. The Catholic diocese decided they wanted the building to be torn down so they could do something else with the property. However, councilor’s Shannon, Montrell and Perry along with Preservation Burlington wanted to not allow the Catholic Diocese the permit to take down their own building because they believe it has some historic and architectural value.
Councilor Shannon particularly fought the hardest for the now allowing the permit as she herself has purchased and restored an older building as her home and she felt that this building was quite a find architecturally and historically. It’s one of the few surviving homes from the urban renewal.
The following issue arose during the discussion:
- The city’s legal department has already spent $25,000 in legal costs and there is no idea of how much more to continue as experts will need to be called in to figure out the options. I could not believe that it $25,000 has already been spent just in the initial stages of this deal. That’s enough to buy our home or what Heavenly and I make in nearly two years. It’s just plain reckless to me.
- If the city wins, the city would need to study code requirements and the fact remains that the Catholic diocese does not want to the sell or donate the land to the city. They city would need to take it from them!
- The resolution is not economically viable for the city… there is too much public cost, opportunity costs, and there are no limits to the expenses… the resolution calls for whatever funds are necessary, no budget or anything. The money involved could buy 100s of affordable housing units, which are much needed.
It was because of these issues that I believe the resolution was voted down by the majority of the councilors. I congratulate them on a good decision. What place does the city have to be trying to take land from a church… what’s next sending cops to take candy from a baby? Really.
I think that problem governmental people have is that whenever they see something that they like or dislike going on in the city the first thought is to write a resolution… create a law. What about a voluntary discussion without force… what about getting together with others that feel the same way to try to work something out. It seems to me that if the building was really valuable, people would want to get together to save it without having to take it by force and forcing the tax payers to pay for the seizure. I’d also like to mention that at one point the city council kicked the audience out so that they could talk in secret about the issue. This was kind of unusual as usually they do that at the end of the city council meeting for other various legal stuff the city is involved in that they don’t want us to know about. They call these “executive sessions”. I think the city council really abuses this power. It’s supposed to be used for the most sensitive of issues not every meeting so that councilors can protect their reputations from the public. They are simply abusing the power and it’s not right to me.