VENERABLE VULNERABLE

CITY OF TEMPE DOES LITTLE TO PROTECT A PRIZE LANDMARK

"We see great possibilities for the house, but we need to have the development fill in towards it" before preservation work can begin, says Mike DeBell, DMB executive vice president.

In the wake of last spring's fire, Fackler says Tempe and DMB have stepped up patrols around the house to keep transients, vandals and, presumably, reporters from entering. But even with added eyes watching the home, it is no trouble walking in on a recent Monday.

"It's virtually impossible to keep somebody out of a vacant building if they are really intent on trying to get in," Fackler concedes.

Tempe development officials appear to have bigger things to think about than the old house. Prospects for the controversial Rio Salado Project are looking up, says Tempe councilmember Dennis Cahill. Private funding appears to be materializing to build much of the $30 million in improvements needed to put water in a proposed lake along a 1.5-mile stretch of the Salt River. Once the lake is in, Tempe expects a $1 billion building frenzy to occur along its banks.

Further stalling efforts to protect historic buildings in Tempe is the lack of a city historic preservation ordinance, which prevents the town from receiving state and federal grants for acquiring and renovating historic structures.

After 20 minutes in the old home, we casually walk out onto the porch and down the front steps. As we head toward the fence, we are drawn to an old vegetable stand where surplus produce from the garden was once peddled.

The old homestead was a giving place. It could be again.

!

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