Friday, August 08, 2008

Building preservation vs. cost of maintenance

The United Way has voted to tear down their existing building and build a new one with plans to save significant amounts of money that their board believes would be better spent helping people in the community.

Their current facility was built in 1969 by The Stranahan Foundation, which supports the plan to demolish and build new.

However, I heard a caller on NewsTalk 1370 WSPD this morning bemoaning the fact that this 'unique' building would be torn down. I expect there will be more comments like this.

I'm all for preservation of historical or architecturally significant buildings - but I believe that such preservation is the responsibility of individuals, not governments. In that vein, anyone who wants to preserve the current United Way building is welcome to purchase it, maintain it, renovate it, preserve it, or do whatever they want with it. But I do not believe they should tell the United Way that simply because they like the building, the U.W. needs to incur unsustainable costs in order to keep the existing structure.

I see such 'instructions' as part of bigger problem: people thinking they can dictate to others what should be done with money that isn't their own - and often employing the legal power and force of the government to do so.

The financial arguments for the decision are irrefutable, so it comes down to this: what's more important? Keeping an architecturally interesting structure, or helping the needy in our community?

I wish the United Way much success in their efforts.

1 comment:

Tim Higgins said...


I couldn't agree more, but this is the logical conclusion of the argument that we have been having in this country recently. That is that everyone should get to decide what is done with a piece of property except "the people who own it". Everyone from concerned citizens to historical preservation groups to government at every level would like to weigh in on the decision of what to do with a piece of Private Property.

Now you would have thought that this would have been settled long ago, since the Founding Fathers were extremely concerned with private property rights, and only changed "Life, Liberty, and Property" to "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" in the Declaration of Independence at the end.

The concepts of logic, reason, and personal rights have eluded modern society however in their magnanimous need to "protect" and "save" us from our mistakes. (Mistakes being defined as anything that does not agree with their opinion.)

Heaven help us from our benefactors...

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