Bad planning ends in empty lot

The lot razed to make way for the new Wood County library is sitting just where it was left seven months ago: empty.

The fact that a historic two-story house and several trees more than a hundred years old were demolished are what originally raised controversey in the community.

Now community members are arguing there is no need to put in any additional parking. Library Director, Elaine Paulett says the library will be holding discussions regarding the lot in the future.

What is shocking about the situation is the library does not even own the property yet. The property is owned by Robert Mauer, a real estate developer, who, incidenatly, is also the person who had the lot razed.

It seems that the library and the city have done this entire transaction backward. The lot was razed in anticipation of the library parking lot before the library ever owned the property. The city gave Maurer the permit to demolish the building, despite the fact that the house was occupiable.

Now the city of Bowling Green is left with an eye sore in the middle of downtown and it may sit there for up to two years.

According to Paulett, the Maurer property will not be available for sale to the library until 2008. In the meantime, the lot sits there, collecting weeds.

Maurer needs to either apply for re-zoning and sell the property to the library or put the lot back on the residential market. If that isn’t possible, he should work with local leaders to make a temporary park of the property. While the community may or may not agree with the installation of more parking, they can’t enjoy the dusty square sitting in limbo.

Most blame for this empty lot fiasco lies with city administrators. They allowed demolition of a centrally located building that was not only functional, but historic – all without making sure the owner had any feasible plans.

Those same administrators must show that they’ve learned from the situation. Currently, the city’s ordinances spend six pages telling exactly how to safely demolish a building, but only one sentence mentioning that “No person shall demolish a building or other structure without obtaining a permit from the public works director.”

This is too weak. Property owners should be required to notify the neighborhood of planned demolitions, just as they currently must for planned rezonings.

The city must prevent property owners from tearing down more real buildings for imaginary pipe dreams.