A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Council allows demolition after 90 days

Written October 11th, 2018 by Hasso Hering

The boarded-up houses at Fourth and Calapooia the way they looked on April 12, 2018.

A dozen people told the Albany City Council Wednesday they want three old houses in the Monteith Historic District restored rather than demolished. Now they have three months to try to make that happen.

The council voted 4-2, with Olsen and Kopczynski opposed, to allow Albany homebuilders Mark and Tina Siegner to raze the three houses on one tax lot at the northeast corner of Fourth and Calapooia, but not for 90 days.

Councilor Bill Coburn, who made the motion, hoped the delay would give people a chance to see about making some arrangement with the owners that would save at least the oldest of the structures on the corner. It is said to have been built in 1858, making it the second-oldest house in Albany, after the city-owned Monteith House, a museum.

Anyone interested in the arguments for preservation can listen to the more than three hours of testimony during Wednesday’s council session. A video of the council session, which lasted past midnight because of the long hearing, should be available later Thursday on the city of Albany’s website here.

Listening to the passionate arguments for preservation in the interest of safeguarding the integrity of Albany’s historic districts, not to mention their role in bringing in tourists, I was struck by this thought:

These dilapidated houses were neglected by their previous owners for three or four decades and have long been a blight on the neighborhood. The city made no move to prevent this decay, and only now, when new owners hope to tear them down because restoration as rentals in their estimation would be financially imprudent, only now is there a hue and cry to prevent their demolition.

Mayor Sharon Konopa said over the years that others had tried to buy the property, but it was either too expensive or not for sale. But if the houses are crucial to the community from an historical aspect, seeing them deteriorate as they have might have prompted some action anyway. CARA could have seen an opportunity to carry out its blight-fighting function long before the Siegners made their application for financial support for restoration, an application that was pulled from the agenda the morning before the CARA board was to consider it last spring.

After the council action Wednesday, the Siegners seemed resigned to the three-month delay. They’ll probably put up signs at the property, as the city staff had suggested, inviting interested parties to offer them alternatives, such as moving one or more of the buildings. Mark said they would sell the houses for a dollar to anyone wanting to move them to a different lot. (hh)

10 responses to “Council allows demolition after 90 days”

  1. J. Jacobson says:

    The Mayor has far too much a sense of “ownership” when it comes to Our Fair City. This is typical and happens to any and all politicians who’ve sat on the seat of power for too long. The mayor is, after all, only human.

    Nevertheless, at some point in a lengthy period of political power, the elected start believing they “own” the domain. That’s when the interests of the politicos and the public collide. The solution? Someone has to get off their duff and run against the entrenched power base. It will not be me. I’m too lazy.

  2. Bryan says:

    They should be forced to repair at least the oldest home. It loses any historical significance once its moved. They bought these homes with no intention of ever fixing them, at least not with their own money. If they did, then they made a poor investment, that’s their problem. Ever hear of due diligence? Sell them (where they stand) to someone that will fix them, just like anyone else that made a bad investment would have to do. I didn’t hear anything in the list of needed repairs suggesting they couldn’t be repaired.

    • centrist says:

      “They should be forced….”
      Essentially confiscating property without compensation and then requiring payment as well. That’s a criminal activity….

      • Bryan says:

        Since you are obviously an overly sensitive snowflake let me explain what was meant, not what you read into it. Don’t feel bad your type do that all the time. Do you happen to work for the liberal media? By “force” I meant give them their options. Either do what they knew needed to be done when they purchased the homes, fix them up. Or if they don’t want to do that they can sell them or sit on them.

      • Warden says:

        Yeah, centrist, that’s what he meant. Maybe “forced” by permitting, zoning, historical preservation requirements?Jeez

      • Jason says:

        What Bryan meant, was the exact opposite as what he said. So alternative facts.
        If the Siegners had not purchased these piles of rubbish, they would continue to be a blight on the neighborhood and attract the crime that coincides with it. So I commend the Siegners for investing in their community and making a little cash to continue the effort.

        As far as anyone being a snowflake, that is the most ridiculous attempt at trying to stereotype a perceived group of people. I wear that feeble attempt, at trying to be provocative, with pride. All of the things that Fox and Bryan describe as snowflakes, make a good, caring and compassionate human being.

    • S. Whittle says:

      Bryan writes: “They should be forced to repair at least the oldest home. It loses any historical significance once its moved..”

      Is the house historic?
      Is the property historic?
      If the homes were to be moved, would that not add to their historical lustre?

      I’m imagining the letter writer’s ” Central Adamantine Repair Alliance {CARA} – a caboodle of enforcement thugs, folks charged with making certain Order is maintained..
      City Mums and Pops descending on scofflaw developers, armed with summons, warrants and decrees.

      To thwart the CARA/Council Cabal, the developers of the project might consider invoking the recent Supreme Court ruling, on the grounds that repairing obviously worthless derelicts violates their religious beliefs. Cake bakers and wedding photogs are already doing that. Why not homebuilders too?

    • Al Nyamn says:

      Gee Bryan, why didn’t you come up with the $85,000 the Siegners paid for the 3 houses. They must have real value to go for that amount.

  3. centrist says:

    Will Rogers said something like
    It’s not what we don’t know thst gives us trouble, it’s what we think we know that ain’t so.

  4. HowlingCicada says:

    “””Mark [Siegner] said they would sell the houses for a dollar to anyone wanting to move them to a different lot.”””

    I don’t know what the cost of demolition and disposal is, but maybe there would be a faster, more satisfactory outcome, and better sense of fairness about the process, if the Siegners offered to pay that demolition cost to anyone who moves any of the houses.

    Of course, there might still be no takers, and the case for preservation-at-any-cost will have lost more ground.


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