Time's up at Altenheim

Opinion: Editorials

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Great news, if sad, that the demolition of derelict buildings on the village-owned Altenheim property may be imminent. Village government anticipates receiving the years-overdue $750,000 state grant to fund much of the demolition. It could come this week. Bids for demolition contracts would follow.

Will be tough to watch the wreck of the old Altenheim chapel come down, but its loss is inevitable and overdue.

Also overdue — and yes, we know there is a pandemic — is any sort of planning for the future of this property. The village is almost done paying off the note on its visionary purchase of the Altenheim property. That was 19 years ago! What's the plan?

Our worry is that, without a solid plan to use at least 70 percent of the property for the civic good, the dismal finances of the village could lead us back to talk of selling it off entirely for development. It was that turn-of-the-century possibility that led the village to leap into purchasing the property.

So sure, everyone is stretched in village government. But that shouldn't preclude launching a citizen-driven planning process. We know people are interested. We've talked to them. The village council needs to offer some broad scope of direction — sell the Madison Street facing portion of the property for sales-tax-generating development, maintain the rest of the property for public use to be determined. (Cultural Park?) And then it should step back and oversee a process that has a firm deadline.

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