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Raze lodge, build park


Date published: 8/17/2014

Raze lodge, build park

The Aug. 11 vote by the Architectural Review Board (4-3) appears to be an emotional decision ["ARB denies bid to raze former Masonic lodge," Aug. 12].

Four members voted to decline the city's request to raze the Masonic building that was purchased for the new city park.

The FLS previously listed seven criteria for preserving a structure in the city. This building met none of those standards.

The Masons had been offering their property for sale to individuals for years at a big number.

I acted as negotiator for the Economic Development Authority, which put the property under contract for the city to purchase. I can assure you there was no hesitation to sell, and they got almost $1 million.

The city had gone through a lengthy transparent design process for the park, which has been a goal for the city for many years. Many people had great input, far more than the few who showed up at the Aug. 11 meeting. None suggested saving the building.

I think more would have shown up to support the razing of the building and the future of the park, had we known there was going to be a knee-jerk reaction from so few.

The park is designed with the purpose of creating a more vibrant downtown, thus enhancing the downtown's ability to be an economic driver to the benefit of the entire city.

Hopefully the City Council will realize this as well those who rushed to judgment.

Michael Colangelo

Fredericksburg

The writer is executive vice president, Johnson Realty Advisors Inc.