It may be too late, but the director of Standing Rock Cultural Arts sent a letter to Kent City Council members this week expressing his opposition to the .
The Friends of the Wells-Sherman House are planning to relocate the building to the patch of greenspace between and the building on North Water Street.
The space, however, has been used by SRCA for programming and events for years.
Council voted last week to loan $15,000 to the relocation effort and will cast its final vote on the loan next week.
Ingram's letter to council, sent Tuesday, is below:
Greetings City Council,
Though I claim no ownership to the property at 247 North Water St, I’d like to contribute my two cents and convince the City of Kent that it’s resources are better off spent on preserving the Erie Street Depot (currently The Pufferbelly Restaurant) and the Marvin Kent House (currently the Masonic Lodge) than investing in The Wells Sherman House.
I am wondering if keeping it a green space would be more valuable to the City. If necessary, Standing Rock Cultural Arts can raise the money to purchase and maintain it as such.
If there is a good plan for this project, please answer the following questions:
What are the true costs of this project?
What will it cost to level the land and lay the foundation for the house?
What will it cost to tie in to the utilities and maintain them for perpetuity?
What parking is available to the tenants and visitors of this historic place?
What will it cost to renovate the structure to the point where it is recognized as a Historical Place by the State of Ohio?
Does The view this house as a priority for historic preservation?
What will it cost to maintain the property for ten years? For twenty years? For one hundred years?
What resources are committed to the project to insure success?
While the efforts of Rick Hawksley are laudable, and I’ve appreciated many of his contributions to the quality of life in Kent, including The Haymaker Farmer’s Market and The Portage Hike and Bike Trail, I feel this attempt to relocate the Wells Sherman House to the yard by The North Water Street Gallery is premature and poorly planned. It appears that moving it to this location is more of an act of desperation, rather than one of careful consideration that will result in a long lasting improvement to the neighborhood.
Let it be known that this land has been used for twenty years by Standing Rock Cultural Arts as a valuable Green Space. Through the years, we’ve built a rain garden to prevent soil erosion, erected solar panels, planted a garden which includes strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, basil, kale, beets, romaine lettuce, red oak leaf lettuce, parsley, collard greens, chives, tomatoes, jerusalem artichokes, onions, and garlic. There are cherry trees, an apple tree, and mulberry trees growing there as well. I am grateful to Jim Arthur for allowing us to use this space.
I have to question the motives of this project as well? What is this about The TransPortage organization, an organization based on the principles of sustainability, putting its office on top of one of the last green spaces in downtown Kent?
There are many groups including The New World Children’s Theatre, and The Annual Jawbone Poetry Reading, which use this space for making art, growing vegetables, holding pot lucks, reading poetry, and relaxing in a space that is close to downtown and an oasis of natural beauty.
After speaking with the Director of The Kent Historical Society, I am convinced that The Wells Sherman House is not a priority in terms of historic preservation in Kent. It will need a huge investment to renovate and maintain its integrity in perpetuity. What endowment is set up to insure that this house will be restored and maintained for the longterm? The director also mentioned that more energy should be put into preserving the Marvin Kent House and The Erie Street Depot.
To satisfy the property owners, if they are in need to sell this space, Standing Rock Cultural Arts would like to purchase the property and maintain it as green space and sculpture garden. We welcome the opportunity to raise funds for this purpose and feel we can accomplish this within a year. I will also personally assist in the search for another location for The Wells Sherman House.
I am saddened by many of the comments in favor of this project which never once acknowledge that there will be a great loss when this structure moves on to the green space. As for preservation, preserving green space in downtown Kent is what I consider valuable. There was a time when undeveloped land was considered useless. Now that there is so little green space left in our Downtown, it has become precious.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Jeff Ingram/Executive Director
Standing Rock Cultural Arts
257 N. Water St., Kent, Ohio