Preserving the Brickyard Manager’s House

Last night we made a tough call in choosing between two options for the preservation of the Brickyard Manager’s House at the north end of town.  As I said during the meeting, all things being equal the Golden Landmarks Association proposal would be the preferred option, since it would place ownership of the property in the hands of a local, community-based nonprofit.  All things were not equal, however.  Although the Ewers Architecture/Baseline Engineering proposal would have meant less public access and that a private company owned the property, they were also bringing a clear capacity to make the project work financially.  Unlike GLA, they have a lot of cash flow, assets, revenue, and an untapped (and large) line of credit.

In other words, if the only goal here was to save the building then the Ewers/Baseline proposal would have been a no-brainer, since they would almost certainly be able to raise the funds needed to stabilize the structure this autumn, before the building suffers yet another winter of water damage.  But there is also a lot of value in supporting our community historic preservation organization, and if they can pull this project off then I think the end result will be better for Golden, so the decision essentially came down to being willing to accept a higher risk of failure (i.e., that GLA doesn’t raise the money quickly enough to prevent the building’s collapse) in exchange for being happier with the outcome if the risk pays off.

Also, while I greatly appreciated the amount of thoughtful public comment on the issue (both beforehand via email and during the public hearing), most of the comments just replicated the quandary:  the thrust of most people’s comments was for preservation of the building.  But of course everyone, and both proposals, agreed with that.  The question, rather, was whether to accept a higher risk of failure in order to end up with something we like better.

And that’s how I and four others (in a 5-2 split) voted:  to accept the greater risk in exchange for what I believe will be, if the risk pays off, a better outcome.

Incidentally, the toughest decisions since I’ve been on Council have consistently been on historic preservation issues, and almost always for the same reason:  a complicated mix of pros and cons.

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