Lack of dialogue about St. Joseph Street demolitions frustrates neighbors

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 | 8:45 p.m. CDT; updated 12:56 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 20, 2012

*This story has been updated to say that the BCFR board of directors meeting was postponed twice this month.

COLUMBIA — The North Central Neighborhood Association and its residents will have a chance this week to raise concerns about the demolition of two homes on St. Joseph Street that are owned by Boone County Family Resources.

That agency will hold its board of directors meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at its offices, 1209 E. Walnut St.

BCFR signed and submitted its demolition applications for the properties at 302 and 308 St. Joseph St. on June 12. Ten business days must pass before the demolition can be executed, said Columbia's Community Development Director Tim Teddy, meaning that the earliest the demolition could occur is June 26.

Adam Saunders is vice president of the North Central Neighborhood Association concerned about historic preservation in that part of the city. Saunders said he hopes Wednesday's meeting will improve dialogue between BCFR and the neighborhood. 

"They are a public agency, and as taxpayers into that agency, we would like for them to communicate better," Saunders said. BCFR is a state-funded agency that provides facilities and services for people in Boone County with developmental disabilities. 

Saunders said that until BCFR comes up with a building plan, he would like the agency to hold off on demolishing the houses.

Demolition will be one of the first topics addressed at Wednesday's meeting, said Robyn Kaufman, BCFR's associate director, adding that John Simon, who will oversee the demolition, and Phil Steinhaus, CEO of the Columbia Housing Authority, will attend.

Kaufman said the board of directors' goal is to use the spaces for residential housing for people with disabilities. 

*The meeting originally was scheduled for June 6 and then again June 13. The latter was postponed because the agency's executive director was unable to attend.

Kaufman said she understands the disappointment that neighborhood residents feel over the meeting's delay.

"I understand the frustration they might have when they come to the meeting and it's canceled," she said. "I know they are looking forward to the board meeting to communicate their thoughts and feelings."

Kaufman said she tried to be proactive and let people in the neighborhood know the reason the meeting was canceled with as much notice as possible.

Nina Wilson-Keenan, who lives on St. Joseph Street, said the community is doing its best to halt the demolition in order to preserve the neighborhood's historic nature. The building at 308 St. Joseph St. is one of the street's original houses, Wilson-Keenan said in a previous Missourian article. 

"We are trying to slow it down, but I don't know if we can do it," she said.

Wilson-Keenan said residents have attempted to get answers from BCFR but have found the task "almost impossible."

She said she hopes the attention her neighborhood is receiving might cause others in the community to stand up and take notice.

"I do hope other neighborhoods are paying attention," Wilson-Keenan said. "My neighborhood might not exist in 10 years."

Meanwhile, Teddy said, demolition permits were submitted for four nearby properties at 1206, 1208, 1210 and 1214 East Walnut St. Walnut II LLC is the owner of the properties, and Trittenbach Development is the building contractor. Both companies are owned by the Odle family. 

Public notice of the demolition permits was given to the Historic Preservation Commission on June 7. 

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey

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Ken Geringer June 20, 2012 | 6:13 p.m.

Well I am surely missing something here. If your charming house is a "tear down," isn't that a good thing. Live there until you can't pass up the premium. Then sell, move away. Big problem. Don't see why your wishes should be worth a premium. Or a hindrance to an owner tearing down his own property if that is what he wishes.

I've seen your homes. Maybe you could have them shipped to Nifong park. Or not. That's up to you.

(Report Comment)
frank christian June 21, 2012 | 8:40 a.m.

K. Geringer - You certainly are missing much. Had you not noted that your statement, "an owner tearing down his own property if that is what he wishes." has nothing to do with what is happening in this oft repeated action by the identified, invasive, governmental entity, not "his".? They are rearranging our residential areas according to their whim with no input from "the people", and are doing it with their tax paid money.

Your idea of "home" shows a huge gap in understanding of life in our U.S.A. "Live there until you can't pass up the premium. Then sell, move away.", smacks more of a vision of governmental "council houses", than one involving pride of ownership and personal responsibility.

"Don't see why your wishes should be worth a premium." Then, whose wishes should be? Imo, your post is one from a simplistic, elitist, liberal. Tell me it ain't true!

(Report Comment)
Rich C. June 21, 2012 | 8:55 a.m.

"simplistic, elitist, liberal."

Sigh...You almost made it through an entire comment with negativity towards liberals. Keep working on it, Frank. You're doing better.

(Report Comment)
Tracy Greever-Rice June 21, 2012 | 9:35 a.m.

Click on Mr. Geringer's name and read his previous comments, many of which are certainly (& painfully) ironic in the context of this story.

To paraphrase Norm Peterson, "People, can't live with them, pass the beer nuts."

(Report Comment)

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