Alderman Thanks Commissioners Siding With YMCA in Waukesha
Duane Paulson says the four commissioners who voted to rescind former gas station's landmarks status were following the law. Paulson is a Waukesha alderman.
On Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011, the Landmarks Commission of the City of Waukesha met at City Hall. One of the items on the agenda was a petition from the YMCA to rescind the local landmark designation for the former Bartles-Maguire service station at 422 E. Broadway.
The short recent history of this property is: It had been on the market for 170 days when it was sold to the Waukesha Family YMCA in May of 2010. In July of 2010 it was designated a Waukesha Landmark by the Landmarks Commission over the objections of the YMCA.
At no time during over five months it was for sale, did anyone attempt to put a landmark designation on it. Only after the YMCA purchased it did that happen. Chapter 28 of the Waukesha City Ordinances, allows the owner of a landmark property to make a good faith effort to sell it. If unable to sell it, because of it being a landmark, the owner may petition to have the designation rescinded. At that time, for a period of 60 days, the owner and the Commission shall work together, in good faith to locate a buyer that is willing to abide by it's designation.
The YMCA provided documentation that proved all of the these steps had been taken. Chapter 28 clearly states after these steps have been taken, "the Commission shall rescind it designation of the property". The Commission voted 4 to 4. A tie results in no action taken. I commend the four commissioners that voted to rescind. As they said, they voted for the law.
I have nothing against preserving history. In the case of this property, the roof is now metal, the siding is now imitation brick, the doors and windows are not original, and the gas pumps are gone. Ironically, it would seem you would have to rebuild it to make it original. What I have a problem with is the act of trampling on the rights of the property owner, without compensation. For most people, this has no affect on their day to day lives. In the case of the YMCA, a nonprofit, supported by donations and a fee for some services, they will be required to maintain this building. Of course, they could give it away and lose the intended use of the property and the more than $150,000 of donated money.