Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Something Rotten...

I grew up in a politically active house, and I still follow/enjoy politics.  Complaining about it, reading about it, debating it, and considering it- pretty much all enjoyable, in my world.  I may have grown up a poor kid in rural Ohio, but my dad knew the cops, city council, the mayor, and the county people.  Dad followed state and national politics as well, and was active politically when the occasion presented itself.  I was raised under the mantra "If you don't vote, you don't have any right to complain about the outcome."  Flag-waving and nationalism was less important, but patriotism that called our leaders to account and political activism were values instilled at a young age.  I bet you never would have guessed, right?
Well, this being Kent, Ohio, there's yet another dust-up between history and the environment.  Basically, in March, it was found out that one of the houses about to be torn down to make way for Kent State University's Esplanade (which is a giant sidewalk that will connect walkers and bike riders from the university with the downtown businesses) is historic.  It was built for the sister of the man that the town is named for, and dates back to the Ante-Bellum period.  It's been moved previously, and used for a student boarding house for 30 years, but it's supposedly in good shape for its age, and a group of preservationists want to sit the house right on one of the last remaining usable green spaces in downtown.  The space sits next to Standing Rock Cultural Arts, and has been used for children's theater, sculpture displays, poetry readings, community gatherings, potlucks, as well as housing a stage, swing, rain gardens, organic vegetable gardens, and native wildlife.  You can read some of the back story on the Kent Patch (the comments are especially interesting).  Kent's been through fights like this before, as have most towns, and we'll be through it again, and we always make it through OK. 
The thing you won't see on Patch, or any other news outlet that I've found so far, is the farce that last Wednesday's special finance committee meeting of city council was.  Last Wednesday, the special finance committee met to discuss the lending of $15,000 toward the preservation of the house.  This had been discussed and approved previously, but the loan had originally been approved to go to a different group, TransPortage, than the one that would now be receiving it, Kent Wells Sherman House, Incorporated.  TransPortage had been backing the project, but pulled out after objections from their membership convinced two of the three directors that this plan was not in their best interest, and would not forward their mission of sustainability.  Kent Wells Sherman House, Inc. began as Friends of the Wells Sherman House in March of this year, and incorporated in July of this year, with one of the city council members kindly volunteering to be one of the three people to sign off on and lend her address to the group's incorporation papers.  The original approval of the loan had happened prior to the Kent Wells Sherman House, Inc. incorporation and the council member's involvement, so after some vocal input from citizens, council decided to publicly discuss the matter before simply transferring the loan to the new group. 

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