MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Opinion

October 15, 2012

Council right to allow demolition

Muskogee city councilors made the right choice to favor the future over the past when it decided to allow the demolition of the old S.H. Kress building.

The council overturned a decision by the Muskogee Historic Preservation Commission that would have prevented the owner from having the building torn down.

Though Dr. Timothy Robison plans to replace the building with a parking lot, it is not exactly like he wants to pave paradise.

The building has been vacant for at least 15 years.

Too many vacant buildings dot our downtown.

Too many unused, decaying buildings give visitors a bad impression of our city.

At this point, a parking lot would be more useful to individuals who wish to do business downtown than another unsightly abandoned structure.

It is important to preserve history. However, it is also important to remember that not everything old is historic.

The Historic Commission cites the architectural style as a reason to keep the building upright.

It also points out — rightfully so — that buildings such as the Severs Block and the Roxy Theater have been renovated and are being put to great use.

The commission also points out that Kress’ lunch counter was once segregated and was a focal point of the civil rights struggle here.

There are other options available to preserve history.

The city can continue to remember our past through historic markers, if necessary.

If a building has much historic value, the city should try to find grants that would allow it to buy those buildings and then restore and renovate them.

To keep old, unused buildings in a decaying state is not in our best interest.

It prevents people from viewing our downtown as new, viable and important.

It prevents growth.

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