By Gary Budzak
Delaware City Council voted 6-1 Monday night to allow the county to move forward with the demolition of the Elks Building at 110 North Sandusky Street.
The building, considered endangered by the organization Preservation Ohio, was at the center of a battle that pitted residents wanting to maintain the historic home (built in 1877 by Dr. Ralph Hills) against the interests of the county, which wants to build a new courthouse on the site. The city’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC)
Prior to the vote, Councilman Andrew Brush, a lifelong Delaware resident who served on the HPC from 2007-2013, read from a prepared statement.
Brush noted that the county’s caseload has skyrocketed due to population growth, necessitating the need for the new courthouse.
“The reason the new courthouse must be built on the Hills home site and not further back is because moving it even 30-40 feet back would result in millions of extra dollars spent on the foundation for the new building due to less stable ground in that area,” Brush said.
If the city were to have denied the demolition permit, “I believe the county will look at greenfield sites outside of the downtown,” Brush said. “Based on my discussions with downtown business owners, a large portion of the county government moving to a greenfield site outside of the downtown would be disastrous.”
In addition, the city can’t force the county to restore the home, Brush said.
“I’m as committed as anyone else you will meet to historic preservation, and that’s why I have to support the demolition of the Hills home,” Brush said. “A vote to save it is a vote against preserving our courthouse for future generations, and a vote against the viability of our downtown.”
Vice Mayor George Hellinger cast the lone no vote.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.