As I mentioned in my last post about the Ypsi-Arbor sign, I wrote to Washtenaw County Commissioner Wes Prater and asked him to intervene, stop the auction, and protect the historic sign. Well, I just received his response. Here it is, in its entirety.
“I agree with most of your concerns. It would benefit the Community, long term. Getting there would be difficult, because you would have to persuade the property owner to make application to become a Historical District for the sign.”
With all due respect to Commissioner Prater, this, according to my understanding of the County’s preservation ordinance, is not the case. As we’ve discussed before, the County Board of Commissioners may establish an emergency moratorium on pending work that “will cause irreparable harm to resources located within an established historic district or a proposed historic district.”
If Prater were right, Ypsi’s historic Starkweather House would have been bulldozed years ago. If you’ll recall, Art Campbell, who then owned the home, had arranged to have torn down, but was stopped at the last minute when local elected officials caught wind of his plans. (You’ll have to ask me for the whole story over beers sometime.) Campbell fought it for a while, but, as I recall, he eventually ended up donating the historic home to the City.
Reading between the lines a bit, it sounds to me like Prater is saying that he’d be happy to see the iconic 1964 sign preserved, but only if he doesn’t have to lift a finger to do it, or upset a local businessman in the process. In other words, he’s not going to move to stop the sale, even though he admittedly thinks that preserving the sign would be in the best long term interests of his constituents.
The auction ends in about 6 days. If something is going to happen, it has to happen soon. Once the sign sells, it’s doubtful there’s anything that we can do.
If you would like to contact Prater, you can find his phone number and email by following the above link.
And, here, for those who haven’t read the previous posts, is why I think this particular sign is important to our community.
…The Washtenaw Avenue corridor is the most traveled thoroughfare in our County, and this is easily the most distinctive feature on it. In a sea of fast food chains and endless strip malls, it stands out, exuding character, and, at least symbolically, bringing our two cities together. As cities nationwide are descending into a homogeneous mess of lowest common denominator crap, I think it’s imperative for us to stand up and protect the things that make our community unique, and give us a sense of history and place…
Now please make that call.