MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Opinion

November 28, 2012

Shift burden of proof to city

— City government must make it easier for property owners to demolish decrepit buildings if downtown Muskogee is to move forward.

Muskogee city councilors have proposed changes to a city ordinance that guides decisions regarding the proposed demolition of historically designated buildings.

The proposals, which are awaiting input from the Historic Preservation Commission, came about after the city overruled the commission’s denial of a permit to demolish the old S.H. Kress

Building.

The city is stuck trying to balance the need to preserve our history and the need to grow downtown economically.

The commission should be fighting to maintain our historical integrity.

Potential buyers should be well aware of their responsibilities before they buy an historically designated property.

The city should not let owners tear down historic property on a whim.

Neither should the city make it impossible to knock down decaying buildings.

Downtown does not appear as accessible to potential business owners if it is dotted with rotting buildings.

Green space may be more inviting.

The Severs Block Building, the Manhattan Building, and the Surety Building all have been renovated and add much to our downtown. Those are the success stories.

But there are too many vacant, boarded up, old buildings downtown.

We can’t wait for decades hoping someone will save each of these buildings.

City government should realize not every old building is historic before our downtown becomes history, too.

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