Monday, October 05, 2009

At What Cost Preservation?

I know that I'm about the get a lot of hate-mail (or at least nasty comments) on this. I can live with that.

The Enquirer offers this report on the Museum Center levy. The article's main point is that no matter what happens, the levy will be smaller next year than in the past.

Also in the story is this nugget: Union Terminal, which is 75 years old (not even considered "old" by European standards, but downtright antiquated to Midwestern Americans), is in disrepair due to its steel-and-concrete infrastructure design. (The problem is one endemic to buildings of that era.) The cost of repair could be as much as $140 million.

The Museum Center is great. I have no problem with taxpayers voting to support its operations. It's a worthwhile expenditure. But is preserving Union Terminal really worth $140,000,000? Certainly the cost to find a new building--or even simply to demolish Union Terminal and start over--would be much less.

Throughout America, historical preservation has become an end unto itself. But should we really be seeking to preserve buildings that weren't built well enough to withstand the test of time? And even if we should, is there any limit to the price we should be willing to pay?

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