Maplewood resident Doug Houser reported to Patch that the Maplewood City Council voted to demolish Woodside, an historic house at 2200 Bredell Avenue in Maplewood. Following that, Ward 3 Councilman Barry Greenberg wrote a letter to Patch, explaining the council’s reasoning. An online petition to save Woodside from demolition was also begun.
Greenberg has now written a second letter. He responds to further concerns and has a suggestion on how it might be saved.
Greenberg’s second letter on Woodside:
In one way I very much appreciate the concern being currently expressed opposing the demolition of the Woodside structure. It illustrates the pride that Maplewood residents have in their community and the respect for the history of our once-again great city. On the other hand, I am disappointed that it takes an announcement of impending doom to motivate people to take action.
The first notion that I would like dispel is that the City has done nothing to find a party interested in buying and renovating the structure. The City hired a realtor to market the house and it was shown on 53 different occasions. The City Manager showed it in at least 20 occasions and I know I showed it to at least 5 people. This means that it was shown at least 78 times and 78 times the party inspecting the facility could not put together numbers that supported an economically feasible project.
As asserted in the comments, the City Council has had the opportunity to budget repairs for Woodside that would slow the deterioration. In the first few years, roof repairs were made through the generosity of Isaac Young to help weatherproof it. After several years and much discussion, however, it was apparent that there was not a municipal use for the building and it would be up to an individual or organization to purchase and renovate the building in a comprehensive manner. Speaking for myself and not the rest of the City Council, after the City paid $100,000 to keep the building from being demolished, I was reluctant to support the expenditure of additional tax dollars that could increase the purchase price and maybe be at cross purposes to renovation decisions a new owner might make.
Another dilemma from was to determine an appropriate scope of work that would weatherproof the building and preserve it for a buyer or purpose that may never materialize. It was also some wishful thinking on my part that someone would buy it and perform all of the work themselves in a more permanent manner. There are priorities that get established every year in the City budget and that staff has done an excellent job of establishing a budget that addresses the most immediate and pressing needs of the City and its infrastructure. Every year a financially responsible budget is submitted to City Council, analyzed, modified and approved. In the last several years that budget has included tax percentage decreases to benefit our citizens. When compared to police, fire, streets, etc. Woodside did not demonstrate the best use of the tax dollars we had to work with. That doesn’t mean that the Council is hell bent on tearing down Woodside.
If there was a use and buyer that could preserve and renovate the building exterior and afford to make the interior modifications required for a functional facility, City Council would not have had to solicit demolition bids. Which brings me to my final point: I am frustrated with commenters claiming that the City doesn’t care about their built history and heritage. I spent seven years on Design and Review Board without compensation because I do care. The question is whether the preservationists care enough to do something to correct the situation or just complain about it.
If you want to save Woodside, create a foundation or find some individual or organization willing to buy and renovate the structure or at minimum, maintain the property in accordance with the Building / Property Maintenance Code until an appropriate purpose be determined and a responsible buyer can be secured. But there must be a deadline established and I personally think 12 years has been long enough. I need to see a real plan of action if there is to be any consideration of changing the current course of events.