By Denis Frankenberger
I today received the long awaited decision of the “Interim Keeper” of the National Register of Historic Places who formally denied my attached petition for removal of the Drumanard (Boundary Increase) from the National Register.
Attached is the 6- page April 23 letter from the National Register as well as the January 31 letter from the River Fields attorney chaired, Kentucky Heritage Council’s 8-page “detailed response” to my petition in which Lindy Casebier, who reports to Governor Beshear appointed Chairman Bob Griffith, River Fields attorney, rendered the opinion:
“We do not find any basis for delisting the subject property”, and … “as the Kentucky SHPO (State Historic Preservation Officer), I will not recommend to the Keeper of the National Register that the property be delisted.”
I had a long conversation this afternoon with “Interim Keeper” Carol Shull, asking her to “help me understand” and reconcile the lightly addressed Section I of my petition as it relates to “prejudicial procedural errors” in the (1988) nomination process … .as well as her logic in other areas.
That historic document found and submitted with my petition clearly indicates officials of the Jefferson County Office of Historic Preservation & Archives – along with employees of the Kentucky Heritage Council – acted in concert to convince the then-owner of the Drumanard property to recant her objection to her property being listing on the National Register in order to assist in blocking the progress of Interstate-265 to Indiana.
To make it so “complicated and costly” it would never happen.
To that Ms. Shull surprisingly stated, “This is acceptable behavior for State Historic Preservationists. If they feel an historic property is subjected to harm, they can initiate nominations to protect it.”
Ironically, while Ms. Shull states “We concur with the Kentucky Heritage Council’s response to these alleged errors”, she does agree with some of the errors cited in the petition, and confirms they will be corrected … although not to the extent of removing the listing. (EX: Error #2)
In addition in her decision, Ms. Shull inexplicably defies the findings of expert consultant Robert Rollins recommended to the Bridges Authority and Project Management firm CTS by none other than the Olmsted Conservancy who stated in a report which is now part of the recently Federally accepted EIS, “there is no evidence that the Olmsted Landscape Plan was ever implemented.”
To that Ms. Shull, absent any documented evidence, concludes: “Rollins did not survey the balance of the estate, so it is inappropriate to draw an overarching negative conclusion from a geographically limited survey”.
Ms. Shull DID agree with consultant Amos in that physical changes to the gardener’s cottage and the removal of a statue and fountain (elements of art and design that qualified the property to be listedon the National Register) are noted and that the National Register “will issue a Supplementary Listing Record” (SLR) for the property changing the status of the gardeners cottage to noncontributing, and another SLR to the House nomination to account for the removal of the contributing objects.”
But overall, Shull maintains, despite overwhelming evidence that John C. Olmsted’s 1905 landscape plan was never implemented, (nor ever requested by owner William Strater for 30 acres of the property) that “the overall vegetative pattern is much as intended by John C. Olmsted.”
Conspicuously, Ms. Shull did admit, “The northern third of the property has changed the most, (assuming) primarily from lack of maintenance in recent years.” But although this is the very portion (11 acres) of the property (which the $255,000,000 tunnel is to save), she stated “even this change in integrity is viewed as a minor aspect of the overall design concept.”
In what I interpret as the most dramatic, damning statement issued by Ms. Carol Shull in answer to my question: Had the Chief Elected Official in the community (Mayor Greg Fischer) answered the request of the Kentucky Heritage Council to provide a comment on my petition and did so in support of my petition, would this have made a difference in your decision.
Ms. Shull answered: “Yes, we take the comments and position of every elected official very seriously.” I note: In spite of my attached letter, meetings with the Mayor’s assistant, issuing copies of the petition and exhibits, and letter from at least 15 others from community business leaders, Mayor Fischer disappointingly elected NOT to respond.
The result of the opinion of both Lindy Casebier and Carol Shull is clear evidence that the provisions contained in the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 are not being utilized in the manner they were intended. And that obstructionists, camouflaged as historic preservationists, are utilizing these provisions to serve as a means of blocking the progress of important infrastructure improvements in the U.S. at greatly increased cost to the public.
In this case, contributed by the apathy of local elected officials, we the public are saddled with a project that will waste more than $200 million.
As such I propose the soon to be constructed $255 million tunnel under the Drumanard property to be christened the Beshear-Fischer Tunnel in order to forever symbolize to future generations what occurs when government leaders have not the courage to stand up to private interest groups. At some point in our future, the public will become outraged to the point they will refuse to tolerate such fiscal frivolity.