Council to decide fate of historic homes


Tonight, Jan. 29, the City Council will vote on whether to spare the wrecking ball for a pair historic downtown homes: a tiny home once lived in by migrant workers and the home of early Mountain View businessman Charles Pearson.

Both homes need to be removed to make way for a four-story office building the council approved for the site at the corner of Villa and Bryant streets. Council members voted unanimously in October to save the tiny "Immigrant House" at 166 Bryant St. as a way of showing how the city's early workers lived.

Tonight the council will vote on appropriating the $32,000 to move the Immigrant House to the city's Municipal Operation Control yard for three years during fund-raising for restoration. The council will vote on whether to require that half of the $227,000 in restoration costs be raised from "non-city sources."

In two years the council will be updated on fundraising efforts and decide where the tiny house may go. Pioneer Park is the site preferred by those working to preserve it.

City staff members recommend against using city funds to save the Pearson House at 902 Villa St. after examining the possibility of using it as a dorm for four to five city workers or as an affordable housing unit, possibly on a city lot on Wright Avenue valued at $500,000. It is estimated to cost $65,000 to relocate and $922,000 to restore. In contrast, a four-bedroom modular home would cost the city $343.000. One last effort would be made to find someone willing to move and restore the home on their own.


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Posted by Chris Parkinson
a resident of Willowgate
on Jan 29, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Amazing to me. We are complaining about spending money on the Berlin Wall sections. Look at the request for expenditures for these shacks.

We should adopt the State of Maryland program for historic building in putting it up to bid for qualified private people to team up and pay for the restoration. This is just nuts. No one will visit these. Like it or not, this truly is a boondoggle.

Please vote no project, its time for the wrecking ball.

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Posted by @ Chris
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jan 29, 2013 at 2:44 pm

What makes you think nobody will visit them?

I do not necessarily agree that the City should spend a ton of money to save restore them; however I think you are too quick to judge. Historic homes are extremely powerful to have in the City. Young kids can learn a great deal from not only reading about but actually seeing first hand how our early workers in Mtn View lived.

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Posted by Chris
a resident of Willowgate
on Jan 29, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Money spent. We have other priorities. Are we now establishing a bar that is at $150,000? The strategic plan has not occurred. Where is all those points in the plan that this makes sense. It's only I want to do this. It is not in a plan that says we should do this.

I do not believe in unsound judgement. I believe in strategic planning so we don't run out of money or resources, so I want to see that plan before accepting. The government is at the pleasure of the people not the other way around. That being said all voices have to be heard and mine is a CFO strategic planning consultant that says no plan no project. Bad plan no project. Good plan good project. There is no other way. To date I see nothing, just spending money.

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Posted by Chris Parkinson
a resident of Willowgate
on Jan 30, 2013 at 8:30 am

Council did a very good job last night with understanding the risks, staking claim to the valuable Immigrant House and letting the termite infested Peirce House go. Storage with minimal costs does not create a risky sunk cost. Putting the responsibility in the hands of the public and not incurring vast unknown percentages tax payer money into a project with unknown issues is the right decision.

The State of Delaware has a fantastic program where individuals bid on taking the responsibility of historic properties and meet all interior and exterior historic requirements. The private individuals pay for the restoration and in return get a life estate to live there. Now these are huge buildings of course, but the Rengstorff House is a missed opportunity. There is no property taxes to pay and the only requirement the state has is that the life estate's members maintain the home and act as docents twice a year showing the homes to the public. The land is park land and is maintained by the state parks commissions. The homes are updated and include alarm system, HVAC systems to mitigate humid conditions, new electrical plumbing, and fire remediation with fire sprinklers. Its not easy to do, but the State of Maryland is having great levels of success running their program. The people running it love it, they create tenants in common agreement sand run the homes like a timeshare where each member has an obligation to keep the property up. They switch years to be docents.

I did not want to be the only stinky thought person against spending money here so I sat still. I agree with Councilmember Bryant with the vision and mission statement of a property with a community garden. She is right that would be splendid. Nice work Councilmember Bryant.

I do not hold any faith in such a splendid placement of the Berlin Wall.

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Posted by Worried
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 30, 2013 at 9:01 am

The house in the picture, when compared to the park bench, is about 50% of the size it should be. Unless, of course, the city has an incredible shrinking machine... .

But WOW! Close to a million dollars to restore a useless shack.

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Posted by Bruno
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 30, 2013 at 10:38 am

I hear that house rents for $1,750 a month. Utilities not included.

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Posted by Christopher Parkinson
a resident of Willowgate
on Feb 6, 2013 at 7:39 am

Man did I embarrass myself. What in the heck was I thinking. We have to save these homes, two historic homes and counting, it is just pathetic.

Have to get into contract with Roger, I don't think he is ready, willing, and able. Have the donations started, need to create that foundation.

So much to do, so little time.

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