GREENFIELD — A nonprofit preservation organization has asked the city for permission to relocate a historic home scheduled to be demolished during the upcoming Potts Ditch construction project, a move that could delay the start of the project even further.
City planning director Joanie Fitzwater made a presentation to the Greenfield Board of Works and Public Safety Tuesday morning on the proposal from Indiana Landmarks, which has asked to take possession of the property at 218 N. State St. in hopes of moving it to a vacant lot instead of tearing it down.
Fitzwater said the organization would foot the bill to move the house, but the process would require a variety of steps, including moving utility lines. City officials expressed concern that the undertaking could further delay the relocation of Potts Ditch, an 18-month project whose groundbreaking has already been moved once, from June to July.
“They are still in their investigative stage to find out if it’s feasible,” Fitzwater told the board. “They need to find a vacant lot that is reasonably close. It would be quite a daunting task, … but they are used to daunting tasks and haven’t batted an eye. I think they are very serious about trying to save this structure.”
Mayor Chuck Fewell said the board is in favor of historic preservation but not at the cost of further inconveniencing city residents, who are already going to experience road closures and detours during the Potts Ditch project.
“The timeframe on this (Potts Ditch project) will be set, … and we have to stay with that in order to make the project flow and make it work for the citizens of Greenfield,” Fewell said. “We have to be on target for what we have scheduled.”
The old house-turned-commercial property, one of six houses purchased by the city and scheduled to be torn down, is currently vacant. The building formerly housed Shelter Insurance, which has since relocated.
Indiana Landmarks has proposed the house be moved to a vacant lot on the south side of east North Street. That lot is currently owned by the city and would first have to be put up for bid in order for that to happen.
But the city already has plans for the lot; it is scheduled to be used as a staging area for the construction equipment and materials in use during the relocation of Potts Ditch.
Board members did not sound optimistic Tuesday that other arrangements could be made so close to the start of construction.
“It doesn’t sound like it’s feasible (to use that lot),” board member Kathy Locke said.
Raina Regan, a community preservation specialist with Indiana Landmarks, said the organization received notice several weeks ago that area residents were concerned a structure dating back to the turn of the century was in danger of being demolished.
The house, which was built around 1904, is in good condition, inside and out, making it a prime candidate to be preserved, she said.
The house is part of the Greenfield Historic District and is listed in the National Register of Historic places.
“... It has some great charm, great historic character,” Regan said.
The next step is for Indiana Landmarks officials to meet with the contractor for the Potts Ditch project, said Fitzwater, who will then report back to the board.
The board took no action on the proposal Tuesday.