DEMOLITION DRAMA: Did a mayor intentionally damage an historic property so it could be demolished?
By Michael Gold | WatchdogWire.com
The mayor of St. Augustine is under fire, accused of intentionally destabilizing a historic building he owned so it could be demolished.
When you are the oldest continuously occupied city of European origin in the United States and on the precipice of celebrating the 450th Anniversary of your founding, you take preservation of what remains of your historic structures very seriously. Demolition of the remaining 50- to 100-year-old homes is unacceptable in all but the direst of circumstances.
So imagine how the city’s residents respond to the demolition of a 200-year-old home in the heart of a Historic Preservation District made necessary because the owner, a Florida general contractor, did not take adequate steps to support the structure before digging a two-foot deep trench around the buildings foundation, resulting in the collapse of its load-bearing walls?
Oh, by the way, the owner-contractor is the former mayor of the city. And, even though he no longer lives in the city, he remains the chairman of the Historic Architectural Review Board, the governing body appointed to consider and act on applications for demolition permits for structures 50-years-old, or older, within the city limits.
The board also advises property owners and government agencies concerning maintenance, protection, enhancement and preservation of historic resources and may designate historic landmarks, among other tasks.