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Plan to Save Wells-Sherman House Pitched to Planning Commission

Request for site plan approval set for June 19 meeting

The architect helping to organize of the historic Kent Wells-Sherman House pitched the proposal to the Kent Planning Commission Tuesday.

Rick Hawksley showed site plans for the property on North Water Street, between and , where the Friends of the Kent Wells-Sherman House and TransPortage want to move the house to.

The pre Civil War greek revival, standing at 250 E. Erie St., is in the path of Kent State University's Esplanade extension and must be moved this summer for construction.

Hawksley said he made the courtesy presentation Tuesday to find out if the commission had any serious reservations about the project or the proposed site plan.

Commission member John Gargan said he was concerned about losing the character of the empty lot, which now is used by Standing Rock for various public uses.

"I just don’t like losing some unique greenspace," Gargan said. "It does have some character … that’s the biggest problem I would have with this.

Jim Vandenboom, a local artist, also was worried about the potential loss for Standing Rock if the house is relocated there.

"I agree with the project, but as far as the city putting any money towards moving it to an inappropriate location, and I feel this is, I would be against it," Vandenboom said. "That location has been a big part of Standing Rock Cultural Arts. They’ve fixed it up. They’ve done a lot of work. It’s a value to the community."

Hawksley said he's talked with SRCA Director Jeff Ingram and believes they could work out a partnership if the house is moved there. He said the first floor of the house would be a semi-public space available for group meetings, and much of the rear of the property would remain open for use.

"We are very sympathetic to that," Hawksley said.

He said the group working to save the house considered about a dozen different locations throughout the city, but for a number of reasons this site proved the most feasible.

"The main thing it comes down to is we’re running out of time," Hawksley said. "The sites that are preferable are not feasible. Finding a use and a site and the money has been an amazing journey. I think we’ve settled on something that’s practical and we can make work."

The owner of the property's other neighboring building where Scribbles stands, Steve Balazs, said his main concern is that the house would be set back from North Water Street far enough to avoid blocking the view of Edwin George's mural on the north side of his building.

"My only concern is being able to see that," Balazs said. "I think the (proposed setback) will make that suffice."

The Kent Board of Zoning Appeals will consider a setback variance for the house to stand 10 feet back from sidewalk on June 18. The planning commission will vote on the site plan June 19.

In the meantime, Hawksley said they may have to move the house before then to avoid delaying Kent State's construction.

"They want it out of the way sooner rather than later, so we’re trying to comply with that," he said.

William B Budner ESQ. June 06, 2012 at 08:53 PM
including resisting progress?
Lisa Regula Meyer June 06, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Having not been inside, I was going off of the video of the house, which does not cast a positive light on the house, and makes it seem like there is little original. Even Mr. Hatch talks about there not being much original, and not much that could be removed for preservation in the footage posted. From the looks, the interior appears fairly new, with a few older components. If that's not the case, then maybe better information should replace this, that would be more effective at making your case for its preservation.
Lisa Regula Meyer June 06, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Updated and more positive images would be great, thanks. What kind of difference in cost was there between this property and something else? I'm sure that there must be some way to save the space beside the gallery and find something else. I know you guys have been trying, but seeing the outpouring of public opinion in the favor of the green space, I'd be surprised if there was no willingness to help solve this problem. "Where there's a will, there's a way" and there seems to be a will to not lose green space used by so many kids and adults.
William B Budner ESQ. June 06, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Chagrin Falls, Medina and Hudson. cities i would never travel to added to my docket.
William B Budner ESQ. June 06, 2012 at 09:44 PM
find another place seems to be the consensus, albeit a patch consensus which is like 10 people. so yeah.
Lisa Regula Meyer June 06, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Sally, you missed my point- fresh faces, fresh ideas, possibly fresh fundraising possibilities. I have no doubt that you explored every option that your group could come up with, but with the added interest, there's the possibility of added options. "Had you attended any of our meetings..." if I had known there was the possibility of loosing something like that green space, then I might have helped out, but when was the first that this possibility was brought up to the general public? I am trying to understand, but with precious little transparency, it's hard to do that. Please understand that when there's a breakdown in communication and there isn't a good chance for the community to weigh-in, then this is the kind of situation that can happen. You must have have had an idea of what would happen in those months that you've been working on this.
Matt Fredmonsky June 06, 2012 at 10:14 PM
I'm enjoying the lively discussion and debate on this topic. I think we can all appreciate Sally's pleas for a bit of understanding. The group, your fellow neighbors really, has been crunched for time and has done a whole lot of leg work in short order. That said, to some extent the opinions expressed here either for or against the location are moot, as the Kent Planning Commission and Kent Board of Zoning Appeals have the ultimate say in whether this house can in fact be allowed to be moved to this site. Lisa, you are right to ask for transparency, as the Friends of the Kent Wells-Sherman House will likely be asking Kent City Council tonight for public money to help with the effort. But for now, I would encourage everyone to wait and see what the zoning and planning boards have to say. Thanks for reading!
Matt Fredmonsky June 06, 2012 at 10:19 PM
A comment was removed for violating our terms of use. http://kent.patch.com/terms
Lisa Regula Meyer June 06, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Sally, I don't think anyone has said that this was your first choice. I understand that you've gone through a lot over this, and would love to see the work you and others put into this, so I could fully appreciate the endeavor. I would hesitate calling announcements on a Facebook group public record, but the meetings tonight with council should definitely be interesting. I'm sorry if I offended you; that wasn't my intent. I'm just trying to see your group's side of this, now that this option is in the spotlight. If I had known about this consideration earlier, or if I had a time machine to go back, I would have been happy to help try and find an alternative. Good luck with your proposal tonight, and I hope there's no hard feelings.
Cy June 06, 2012 at 11:00 PM
In agreement with Lisa and others, I would like to add: Sally's argument seems to be that because they worked very hard and long on this project, the elimination of the green space is justified because there is no alternative. Maybe it's just me, but that is a leap of logic I just can't take. Just because you want something badly and just because you work very hard to get it, doesn't mean it is a good idea.
The Omnipotent Sponge - Soak it up! June 06, 2012 at 11:08 PM
"Do you think the North Water Street site is the best location for the house? Tell us in the comments." We are.
Paxton Crenshaw June 07, 2012 at 12:52 AM
seriously people - every old house in kent has a role in our town's history, but once the windows and siding have been replaced with vinyl, does it really qualify as a historic landmark worthy of preservation? for crying out loud, this house isn't even in it's original location! don't give me that "touchstones to our past" stuff because few in town knew or cared about this house prior to the esplanade development - this is just your way of fighting back at the town/gown for making changes you don't like!
Matt Fredmonsky June 07, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Kent City Council voted tonight (June 6 2012) to give $15,000 of city money towards the effort. Look for the full story Thursday on Kent Patch.
Matt Fredmonsky June 07, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Thanks for sharing the photos Sally.
Tina Puckett June 07, 2012 at 01:41 AM
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.373563213875.152940.371908693875&type=3#!/photo.php?fbid=373567273875&set=a.373563213875.152940.371908693875&type=3&theater - These children seem to think so. They don't remember a house on that spot. The poets at the annual Jawbone Potluck seem to enjoy the green space now that it's there. Community members stopping for a rest during a walk enjoy it and so do the community gardeners and passersby. Ultimately, however, the owner, the Friends, the commission, and the city will decide if they want a house there, regardless of photos of days gone by.
Tina Puckett June 07, 2012 at 01:51 AM
"We regret the ill feelings generated by some people about this" I hope that Ms. Burnell has no hard feelings about dissent in opinion. As the Friends have moved toward preserving something that they believe in passionately, I hope that there is understanding of my desire to do the same by speaking of my thoughts in this matter. I apologize if my particular communications here on the Patch was seen as generating ill feelings. I initially expressed my support for the preservation of the home even while dissenting about location in my initial post. I am just disappointed that it involves the destruction of green space and a community gathering place and felt the need and right to speak out equally about the matter until a decision was finalized. I sincerely wish the best for restoration of this home to its initial grandeur even if I am opposed to its location in the planned site.
Tina Puckett June 07, 2012 at 01:51 AM
were seen*
Matt Fredmonsky June 07, 2012 at 02:14 AM
@Tina, I think everyone has had a fair and civil discussion about it, and what's great is each side of the location issue has made similar statements, including thoughts that there can be a partnership moving forward. I hope everyone can continue to be so neighborly! Great stuff Kent.
Jon Ridinger June 07, 2012 at 02:34 AM
Gracious. Reading this you'd think this lot is the last oasis of greenery in the entire city of Kent. Never mind the Hometown Plaza downtown, the empty lot at the corner of College and Franklin, or the entirety of Riveredge Park lining the western edge of downtown. Oh, and let's not forget the more than 20 parks and preserves in Kent (which doesn't count DePeyster Field), the wide open spaces of campus, and the many many wooded yards and tree lawns in town. There is no shortage of green space in Kent by any means. If Standing Rock and those around it wish to keep the green space, then by all means do what is necessary to acquire the land. If not, you will always be at the mercy of others. Just because some kids have enjoyed playing there or people like how it looks doesn't mean it's the best use or that it is always going to or should be like that. Downtowns, by their very nature, are densly populated with minimal green space. And frankly, a lot of the "green space" I see on North Water consists of overgrown weeds, unmowed grass, and trees that are far too close to the buildings (meaning they are likely causing structural damage).
William B Budner ESQ. June 07, 2012 at 02:43 AM
agreed cy. it also doesn't mean you get what you want, even if you worked hard for it...
William B Budner ESQ. June 07, 2012 at 02:44 AM
now that's wasteful...
Lisa Regula Meyer June 07, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Opinions- possibly the one thing in Kent that outnumbers groundhogs. :)
Jon Ridinger June 07, 2012 at 02:59 AM
I have been on the periphery of the discussions regarding the site for the house and have offered comments here and there as it has progressed. I have not attended the meetings due to a variety of reasons. Despite that, I can say that various sites were not only discussed in great depth but investigated by several members (as judged by the large volume of email I have received the past few months from all this!). This was by no means a quick or light decision. I don't think Sally is implying that we should do this just because "we've worked so hard"; it's because, based on months of research and weighing options, this is the best option available based on resources available. Nowhere has anyone stated this is the *perfect* option or that it is the best for everyone. But seriously, if people really feel strongly about this little green space, get together like the Friends of the Wells-Sherman House did and acquire it. Then you'll never have to worry about it again. Personally, though, I'd like to see downtown actually look like a city again with the holes filled in, North Water especially. The 1970s absolutely decimated North Water street in terms of lost businesses and demolition.
William B Budner ESQ. June 07, 2012 at 03:35 AM
looks like you looked at a bunch of impractical places to start with. great work!
William B Budner ESQ. June 07, 2012 at 03:44 AM
i'd say at least 7 of those spots are not "vacant land" but i digress...
William B Budner ESQ. June 07, 2012 at 04:05 AM
you fail to recognize satire. i'll write that down to remember it.
Tina Puckett June 07, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Let's just agree to disagree, shall we?
Balertwine July 10, 2012 at 08:57 PM
I see two really bad things in the list of possible sites. First, our public servants, the administrators at KSU, our taxpayer-supported university, wants that historic house gone. Those same public servants said they don't want the house included in the project . Now the last time I checked, university administrators are on our payroll working for us at our directive. So this is what the Mayor does: calls whatever administrator it is at KSU, and tells him this house will not be torn down. It must be relocated. Simple as that. The idea that we need to organize into little private organizations to save historic structures from the unstoppable bulldozers of our government is ridiculous. The name of the place is Kent, Ohio, not Pyongyang, North Korea. The mayor does what we want him to. The KSU administrators do what we want them to. Otherwise, they are in trouble, not us. They serve us. OK? So change the mindset here. Now, the second bad thing I saw on the list of possible sites was the statement "John Brown Tannery Park: disinterest by Kent Parks and Recreation". Please reference my above factual observation that this is not North Korea, and take a guess where I think the administrators of the Kent Parks and Recreation can stick their disinterest. We are calling the Mayor again. Further, deadlines don't scare me. Bulldozers must stay idle until the house is relocated where everyone likes it, and if our public servants don't like it, they can quit.

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