Letter to the Editor: Town should restore buildings
I am a member of the Architectural Review Board but am representing myself in this letter.
There are many elements that make Strasburg special and one of them is the delightful mix of architectural styles in commercial as well as residential buildings on King Street. We do not have that cookie-cutter look of places usually called quaint. We qualify as eclectic.
Two of the buildings that are an important part of that multi-style appeal are threatened. The Brill Grocery and Taxi Stand buildings have been allowed to deteriorate over the past decade by the property owner, the Strasburg town government. Even though they are contributing buildings within the Historic District, and recognized as such by the state and the federal governments, they face demolition.
There was a plan for their use a decade ago but nothing happened. Then it was as though they became invisible although they are just across the Town Run from Town Hall. Any owner of a vintage building knows what will happen to a building left unattended. Problems multiply. Now it has been decided that repairing them would be too costly. The new plan: open space, no buildings.
It is easy to dismiss the value of a building that has been abandoned and looks worthless. However, all around town, property owners are changing ugly to beautiful with careful renovations of our century-old buildings. The Brill and Taxi Stand buildings can be beautiful again and contribute to the blossoming of our downtown. There are a lot of possible uses: add an infill building and create condos or apartments, a senior center or daycare facility for children of town employees.
Cities and towns across the country have proven numerous times that investment in our historic downtown buildings pays huge dividends. We have an opportunity right now to do the right thing for our downtown and that is to repair and restore what is ours and not to destroy. Let the council hear from you.
Linda Wheeler, Strasburg