Exponent Editorial, Thursday, March 11, 1999
Weston officials moving forward in keeping history alive

    Weston City Council recently approved first reading of an ordinance that would help preserve the city's past; we hope council members will follow through and pass the ordinance.
    The ordinance would give the city's Historic Landmarks Commission more say in the development of the downtown. Essentially, it would give its members the power to approve (or reject) any renovations proposed for the city's existing buildings.
    The purpose of the ordinance is to obviously keep the historical integrity of downtown Weston intact as much as possible. Drastic, modern changes to century-old buildings would likely be frowned upon, as would the construction of newer buildings in historical areas.
    An example of the latter was cited by commission members Bill Adler and Joyce Stalnaker. They noted that the giant G.C. Murphy building in the downtown area simply looks out of place among the older styles of architecture.
    The passage of such an ordinance isn't an attempt to gum up the proverbial wheels of progress. After all, it only applies to those buildings deemed to be of historical significance. As pointed out by Adler, "It's not our intention to stand in the way of economic progress." And preserving a community's history, especially when it's evident in buildings that are still standing is a pretty important thing. That's particularly true for the city of Weston, which has more than its share of historic buildings.
    The former Weston State Hospital, our state's first hospital for the mentally ill, is nearly 140 years old and represents the largest hand-cut stone building in the country. The Citizens Bank is reportedly the tallest one-story building in the nation. The library was originally a mansion. And the list goes on.
    There's not much need to preach about the importance of preserving the past; most of us are well aware of its significance. Suffice it to say that Weston deserves recognition for its own efforts to keep its history alive.

Today's editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial board, which includes William J. Sedivy, John G. Miller, Julie R. Cryser, James Logue, Kevin Courtney and Cecil Jarvis.

Telegram Editorial, Thursday, March 11, 1999
Weston citizens must not keep shouldering weight of city's woes

    City of Weston officials show no apparent signs of complying with Secretary of State Ken Hechler's request for a reason why residents were not allowed to vote on municipal fee raises. To us, that is a brazen rebuff of a reasonable appeal.
The citizens of Weston have been overburdened as it is with municipal taxes and fees without once again having to take it on the chin for a lapse of business sense on the part of past city officials.
    When one group of city residents expressed concerns about the quadrupling of the municipal fee to Hechler's office (their petition to the city in 1998 was disregarded by council) Hechler himself wanted to know why. He asked for a response by February 12. That day passed with no response.
    Weston City Attorney Christy Smith said the matter had been turned over to the state attorney general's office personnel. She added that she would provide them with the information as soon as possible, claiming she had "better information as to what they need to look at."
    We cannot see a valid reason why the city will not allow a vote on the fee increase. Of 1,026 signatures, 822 were registered Weston voters. Do the math. Eighty percent is far greater than the 30 percent required for a public vote on an issue.
    Is it simply stalling tactics? One Weston councilman claimed that although the people are verified to be Weston voters, their signatures are not verified, and that is currently the holdup.
    But even if the signatures are verified the attorney general's office is working to do just that will Weston officials devise yet another obstacle? The city attorney insists there is still "plenty of time" for the state to decide on whether the issue can be put to a vote.
    The Weston election will be in June. It is nearly mid-March. How can city officials believe there is still plenty of time for the state to reach a decision when it has been nearly a year? Residents submitted the signatures on April 20, 1998, to council. And council promptly rejected the petition, questioning the validity of the signatures.
    We must agree with Weston resident Frank Monnett, who said, "It's up to the people. It's not up to council." And we feel he was right when he said the city could have prevented the trouble by letting the people vote before quadrupling the fee.
    It is true that the City of Weston has its financial troubles. It has a $75,000 deficit and a spending freeze in effect. And its officials no doubt are doing what they believe is right for the city. But the "cash cow" has been milked dry. The city must consider other options.
Robert F. Stealey
Telegram Editorial Board chairman


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