Tuesday, February 20, 2001

Historic house is cornerstone of conflict over new park plans

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — The city is getting ready to convert a mostly empty downtown block into Bicentennial Park.

        But first, it has to pick from two plans including one that is greeted with some controversy.

        The planning commission will hear residents' comments tonight on two proposals by Brandstetter Carroll, the consulting firm that developed a master plan for downtown Lebanon.

        Both plans include about 80 parking spaces, a gazebo, a band shell and public bathrooms in the block bound by Mulberry, Cherry, Main and Mechanic streets.

        The difference: One would keep an 1855 Queen Anne-style house for office or resi dential use, while the other would require razing or moving the city-owned building.

        “This is a classic conflict of good objectives,” said Planning Director Marty Kohler.

        The nonprofit Lebanon Conservancy Foundation wants the house restored because of its historic value, but that won't leave enough open space around the band shell, Mr. Kohler said.

        “You really can't do one well without sacrificing the other,” he said.

        The best option may be to move the building, Mr. Kohler said, but Jerry Miller, treasurer of the conservancy, disagreed. A move would be costly and also would disqualify it for a listing on the National Register of Historic Places, Mr. Miller said.

        The conservancy, which offered its own plan for the site last year, will have representatives at the planning meeting tonight.

        The Lebanon Theatre Company also will be there to weigh in with its desire for some community theater space.

        “We don't have a place in Lebanon for any kind of performance, any kind of speech,” said Mike McMurray, a theater board member.


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