To the Editor, The Villager:
During recent City Council training, Auburn’s City Attorney repeatedly referenced the Auburn 2020 Report as the guiding document for decision-making.
That report addresses loss of historic structures: “There are no guidelines in the City of Auburn to direct the protection and preservation of historical and architecturally distinctive structures. The result is an indiscriminate destruction of buildings and sites and the loss of Auburn’s heritage ... This is an urgent need that requires swift action, if the remaining structures are to be saved or reused. (pp. 107-108)
The Auburn CompPlan 2030 explicitly urges (section 9.6): “Make preservation and the adaptive reuse of historic buildings a viable and desirable alternative to demolition and redevelopment. Incentivize preservation to increase the economic benefits. Ensure zoning is conducive to preservation and adaptive reuse. As the urban core expands, prioritize the protection and adaptive reuse of historically significant single-family houses ... .”
One of Auburn’s last historic homes, located at the South College /Samford Avenue intersection, has been purchased by a developer who has already taken out a demolition permit. Built by the Cullars family, who donated land for the historic Cullars Rotation and who rebuilt Samford Hall after it burned in 1887, this house has served as a gracious gateway to the city since the 1890s.
Our city urgently needs to put the CompPlan 2030 words into IMMEDIATE action.
The recent budget analysis revealed a greater surplus than projected. The city should allocate funds toward the saving of the Cullars house. There is precedent, including the city’s purchase of the Depot for nearly $1,000,000 in 2014. The same could be done for the Cullars house, equally as important to the history of the community and to the university. If the city doesn’t step to the plate now, when will it?
Linda H. Dean