COLUMBIA — The Boone County Family Resources Board of Directors unanimously decided Wednesday evening to suspend the demolition of two houses on St. Joseph Street.
The board decided the organization will meet with the Historic Preservation Commission to evaluate how the houses might be preserved before its next meeting. A date for the meeting has not been set.
Boone County Family Resources submitted applications June 12 to demolish two houses on its St. Joseph Street properties. The same day, the agency received permission to proceed as early as June 26.
Residents of the surrounding neighborhood offered resistance to the demolition of 302 and 308 St. Joseph St. Seven of the dozen people who spoke at the board's meeting Wednesday were against the demolition.
Pat Fowler, president of the North Central Neighborhood Association, asked that the board consult with the Historic Preservation Commission before acting. Echoing others against the demolition, she voiced concerns about preserving the atmosphere of the neighborhood.
"We urge you not to demolish the house," Fowler said in reference to 308 St. Joseph St.
Neighbors also wondered whether Boone County Family Resources would build parking lots and offices or housing for its clients with developmental disabilities on the properties.
Boone County Family Resources Executive Director Les Wagner said at the meeting that there were not, and never had been, plans to turn the St. Joseph Street properties into offices and parking lots.
While Boone County Family Resources is in high need of more office and parking lot space, Wagner said, organization officials agreed the area should remain residential.
Five people, most of them parents of Boone County Family Resources clients, spoke about the importance of the organization and of housing for people with developmental disabilities. They said the St. Joseph Street properties were ideally located.
A consistent message from nearly all who spoke, though, was that the neighborhood would benefit from and welcome Boone County Family Resources clients. Several proposed that all involved parties should sit down and have an open discussion in an effort to reach an agreement.
Still, board members worried about leaving the vacant houses as they are for too long, and about a potential breach of contract between the demolition company and Boone County Family Resources.
Boone County Counselor Charles Dykhouse suggested that the board move at a diligent pace to come to a conclusion about the houses.
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