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Letter to the Editor: Carol Dowe's appeal to county supervisors

Posted: Tue, Mar 5, 2013 4:25 PM

Winneshiek County resident Carol Dowe e-mailed this Letter to the Editor on behalf of "Concerned Citizens for the North Building, Wellington Place"--

We respectfully come to you, the Board of Supervisors with these concerns:

1.  Normal protocol for Demolition of a Building, particularly a Heritage
Building requires not only the estimate of Demolition, but also the cost of
bringing it to Building Code.  That has not been done, and therefore we suggest the Board backs up and gathers the necessary information and make it public, so an intelligent decision can be made. There has been a lack of transparency in the decision to demolish this heritage building.

2. The reference to Public Health concerns, that "the Inspectors WOULD NOT go in that North Building" gave an incorrect impression. (See letter dated February 19, 2013 from State of Iowa Inspections and Appeals Department) which says "Health facilities surveyors would HAVE NO REASON to enter the (North) building"

3. The Fire Marshall Report verbally alluded to as "not meeting" Iowa State Fire code was erroneous".  (See attached report, Feb. 8, 2013) "Through my research I have done on the(Wellington) building, the current area being used has been inspected in the past year, and is believed to be up to all the codes and standards that are required"

4. We have spoken to Mrs. Melinda Hanson, Chair of the Board of Directors at Wellington Place, and sent her a copy of the Fire Marshall report, along with our letter to the Board of Supervisors and photos of our Before and After Old School House at Qualicum Beach. (see enclosed email of 2/21/13).

5. Being part of a successful restoration of an 1800's Old School House some 25 years ago,  in a town the size of Decorah, I felt to share some of our experience to help you.  I have asked the Board of Supervisors for photos of the interior of the North Building, and been denied.

Before we could go any further with any proposal with you, the Board, we would need written Estimate/Bids to bring the North Building up to Building Code.    It simply is not good business sense for us to continue any further without that information.

You need to be a good Landlord and provide this information (which should have  been provided long ago)  before a demolition decision was made.

In the case of the Old Qualicum Schoolhouse,we had the cooperation of the Town and Council  by being given the land and building for $1.00., and then we put all our energies into Fundraising, Lottery Money and Grants along with Volunteers from the area. We all worked together for this goal, and continue to have Volunteers operating this successful Old School House Arts Centre in a community of mainly retired folks, where 30,000 visitors come annually!

6.Therefore, I feel it is imperative that you do the right thing for the citizens of Winneshiek County, and get the proper written Estimates/Bids to bring the North building up to code, and then an intelligent decision can be made.

7. At the Public Meeting regarding this North Building, there were many good, positive and constructive ideas for this Building, (from Julie Fischer, Kyrl Henderson, Grant Hagen, and Kevin Lee among others),  and apparently there has been no followup on these suggestions, as the decision was made abruptly one week later to demolish the North Building.  What was the purpose of the Public meeting?  The taxpayers and voters were speaking to you then, and are speaking to you now.

Thank you for your time, and we hope you will do the right thing. You are a new Board and can reverse the decision with the new facts, or at the very least Table the decision until the above mentioned written Estimates/Bids be obtained for the North Building to meet Building Code. Then the good constructive ideas coming from the Public meeting may be considered thoroughly."

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