Posted Online: Dec. 03, 2012, 6:00 am
View from QCA: Save Moline DRI Depot
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By Dan Mizner
On Dec. 18th, the Moline City Council is scheduled to act upon selling the DRI Depot to the State of Illinois. This would in effect doom the depot to the wrecking ball.
Federal laws protect historic sites when threatened by federally funded projects and they have agreed to move the depot. The cost to move the depot has been estimated to be around $800,000. To build a building of this quality and size would easily cost $2 million or more.
Western Illinois University Quad Cities has estimated that $350,000 would be used to rehab the facility into a visitor center. Before the building is moved, some maintenance needs to be done. The items needing attention are roof repairs, minor brick work and repairing the windows. These repairs are the City of Moline's responsibility. The original estimated cost was $300,000, but the Moline Historic Preservation Commission got the cost down to $155,000. The City Council is voting to not do anything and sell the property as is to the State of Illinois for $141,000.
"There isn't an elected official in the country who doesn't claim to be an advocate for fiscal responsibility. If preservation were just a luxury, it would indeed be one of the extras dropped when cost cutting comes. Whenever a systematic look at historic preservation has been taken, however, saving our built heritage has been found not to be a luxury at all," to quote Donovan Rypkema.
Preservation creates jobs. The jobs created from a rehab are local.
Preservation not only has an impact on local labor demand but on local suppliers as well. When a contractor builds a new building it orders the materials from suppliers outside of the area, but when needing to match a piece of architectural millwork it will likely go to a local cabinetmaker. This keeps dollars in the community.
Another argument is that the life expectancy of a rehabilitated historic building may well be longer than that of new structures. The depot is more than 100 years old and is sound condition even with little care over the past 40 years.
"Increasingly today, public officials are facing the difficult and expensive decision to raze buildings built 30 to 40 years ago because insufficient quality remains to justify their rehabilitation," Mr. Rypkema writes.
I would much rather see $1.25 million spent moving this building and rehabbing it and having it last another 100 years, than to build an inferior building for $2 million or more only to replace it in 40 years.
In review, it makes economic sense to repair, relocate and rehab the historic DRI Depot. It has a great history, has structural integrity and would be a better value than new construction.
Relocating and rehabbing creates jobs. Those employed spend their money locally. Many of the materials would come from local companies that employ local workers that spend money locally. This would be lost if the depot were demolished.
You can help in two ways.
-- Please visit Moline Preservation Society's special website www.savethemolinedepot.com and sign a pledge to donate anything you can afford. They are appreciative of any amount.
-- Secondly and just as important, please contact the Moline City Aldermen and let them know that this building needs to be saved and that they should support the Moline Preservation Society with the needed repairs.
The aldermen have said that the lack of response is one of the factors in their decision. Please let them know that preservation matters. With your help, the depot can be valuable asset for years to come.
Dan Mizner of Moline is a member of the Moline Historic Preservation Commission.