‘Agree to disagree’ on the 3 Bank Street house

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This letter is to address the controversy surrounding the decision to demolish the home at #3 Bank Street in Wallace, a.k.a. the 1906 Mallon House. Rather than going through a whole point by point retort of the proceedings and history of the case, I have just a few things to say to set the record straight.

I’m the vice chair of Wallace’s Historic Preservation commission. As such I freely took on the duty to try to work out a compromise with the homeowners to keep this 112 year old home standing. All of my proposed compromises were rejected by the homeowners--as was their right. Those proposals included offers by local residents to donate time and treasure to keep the home from collapsing.

It is not in dispute that the home is in rotten shape. But demolition is not the only remedy. Here is the most expedient solution. Sell it.

That was the remedy that kept a historic home standing on the corner of Hotel and Seventh. That home was also in horrible shape, but once put on the market last year it sold almost immediately. New owners are renovating it in accordance with city historical codes.

That could be done in this case. In fact current homeowners could make a very tidy profit over the $10.00 (ten dollars) they paid for the 1906 Mallon House. Unfortunately they aren’t pursuing any other remedy but demolition.

I would have presented these points at the relevant P&Z Hearing in February, as I did in other P&Z hearings. I couldn’t attend though. I was ill; a case of shingles in my ear. I am still recovering six months after the initial attack. Searing ear and head pain coupled with nerve damage paralyzed my face, affected my speech, sapped my energy and restricted my schedule for months. Thus, I simply was not able to attend the Feb. 7th P&Z hearing that granted the homeowners a demolition certificate. I also would have presented these points at last night’s special hearing— but was muzzled by city officials and official procedure from speaking on the matter.

One last point. The loss of this historic home is not and should not be a death knell to either Wallace’s historic or overall congenial character.

In contrast to this case, many of Wallace’s historic homes and commercial buildings are now becoming more treasured. Both new residents and those returning to the community after a long absence have recently purchased several neglected properties and are restoring them.

What also should be valued is our sense of community. That is the real treasure of this town. It is the sense that we, for the most part, care about the place, the places and the people here. It would be a true shame to lose that sense of congeniality in this or any other controversy. I prefer to follow the advice of Ben Franklin. We can and should “disagree without being disagreeable.”

David Copelan,

Wallace

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