Letter to the Editor: Most “…everyone wants to save this building. Where he goes from here, we don’t know.”

Message to the editor

This is a recurring topic that was excerpted from last week’s meeting and has been heard in various forms since then.

My thoughts. First, I would like to reiterate my gratitude to EHHS during its beginnings and the first 26 years or so for saving the building and the other wonderful work they did during those golden years. I am not aware of most of their activities since my time on the board of directors other than those mentioned in their newsletter, and I have always wished them well. However, there are some points to think about below.

1) Doing nothing and kicking the can down the road again is a mistake due to building walls and/or ceiling in areas that are likely to charge a lot of water. If we do nothing, it will sink or go down somehow.

2) It’s impossible to stir up a community about big spending on multi-year renovation projects without a vision of what it will become.

3) But you can’t quite cast the vision unless you enter this building and answer many key questions, some of which cannot be known until they are sealed (sealed) and dry for a year or more. And yes, I have read the report.

4) Is there sufficient water pressure in that area to supply all three floors of the fire sprinkler system if installed?

5) In my previous work of Historic Renovation, it was cooperation and reasonable flexibility between city officials who do their hard work to protect citizens and ensure build quality, and local contractors who have actual experience in buildings over 100 years old built largely from local materials in the Plant City today was dependable and essential to success. When you have an old building with no structural blueprints, materials that have deteriorated, methods many inspectors today have no experience with, and the myriad other issues that go along with these, mutual trust and flexibility are required as one must “in the field” engineer at a hundred speed something every week. Back then CYA wasn’t when bugs were found and dealt with and blame shifted to the other person, and also didn’t require architectural plans from out-of-state firms with 20 lawyers wasting away and every detail engineer sealed before you could do anything, it was good, reliable builders working With good and reliable City Building departments and inspectors with an attitude of “When in doubt, rebuild it better than it’s ever been”. Those days are gone. It’s no one’s fault, but they are.

So what now? If memory serves some of the things that will be essential to success, it is this: youth, because it can be usefully blind to well-established sacred cows. A bold, authoritative voice close to and dear to the city, but not in accordance with its legal requirements to be too cautious in discussion (a recently retired commissioner comes to mind). A few free cards get out of prison from the city’s building department. One or two local contractors built at least one home in Lincoln Log to complete and renovate at least a century-old building in Plant City. Have the district school board release any restrictions regarding the future of that building (I suspect they’d be very happy to get off the hook with its future results either way). A few good formal city council meetings to gather ideas and exhaust some non-fiction critics. Finally, endorsing a panel of no more than seven to brainstorm privately and take a look.

I know this has been tried once before from within HSE, but unfortunately it was too soon. And sure enough, many fearsome sacred cows were scratching pastures and snoring in ways that shut them off. Maybe it’s time for one last big try.

– Ed Werner

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