Thursday, August 15, 2002

Log cabin in Chilo about to come down

By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

        BATAVIA — A 200-year-old Clermont County cabin lost its battle with time Wednesday.

        The log house, in the tiny village of Chilo along the Ohio River, was acquired by the county with grant funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency after the 1997 flood. The grant was to pay for removal of structures in the flood plain. FEMA has given the county a deadline of Sept. 18 to have it demolished or return about $35,000 in grant money, the purchase cost of the property in its pre-flood condition.

        Residents of Chilo and members of the Committee to Save Chilo's Historic Log Cabin asked Clermont County commissioners to give them more time to raise the money to buy the property, at 402 Washington St., from the county. They also want to negotiate the price to its post-flood value of $9,000.

        “That cabin has been there,” said Commissioner Mary Walker. “It was there before the flood; it was there before the grant. You didn't bring it to our attention until we owned it and bought it for more than you feel we should have paid. And now you want it.”

        The building was to be razed, but demolition was halted two days before it was to begin because of concerns about its possible historic significance. But in January 2001, the Ohio Historic Preservation Office determined the house had no specific historical importance and was not eligible for the National Register.

        With the FEMA deadline approaching and a bid to do the work for $2,400 scheduled to expire on Aug. 20, Ms. Walker and Commissioner Martha Dorsey said they couldn't wait any longer and voted to accept the bid and proceed with the demolition. Commissioner Bob Proud was not at the meeting.

        Joseph Palazzolo, a resident of Chilo and member of the committee to save the cabin, said he was disappointed in the decision, but plans to continue searching for funding to purchase it until it's actually demolished.

        “I feel we lost today,” Mr. Palazzolo said. “It's a loss for Chilo and a loss for Clermont County.”

        But County Administrator David Spinney said that even if the group was able to purchase the cabin, it's unlikely the group or village would be eligible to receive federal or state grants for any restoration of the two-story building because of its location in the flood plain.

        Dan Burke, another resident and committee member, said FEMA only notified the village on Aug. 7 that purchasing the property was an option. Before that, they'd been told they'd have to move the log cabin because it was in the flood plain. The committee has had less than a month to come up with the money to buy the property.


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