Give Howland historical group seat at the table
Safety improvements are crucial for a high traffic Howland road where many fatal and injury crashes have occurred over the years.
But preservation of our history is crucial, too, to future generations.
The two issues have intersected as the Ohio Department of Transportation works to improve the safety and traffic flow through the heavily traveled interchange at state Routes 46 and 82 in Howland. As it’s designed, the planned safety upgrades and conversion of the intersection into a “diverging diamond” will mean the removal of a historical Howland home, commonly known as “Yellow House,” that’s located at the intersection.
Tentatively, the road construction is scheduled for 2023.
We have been hopeful that the owner of the Yellow House — an 1830s home that now houses the Howland Historical Society as one of the oldest homes in Howland — and the Ohio Department of Transportation would be able to reach an agreement on how to preserve the home that is located in an area slated for the safety upgrade.
Indeed, it seems the parties have attempted to be cooperative. ODOT even has offered to assist in moving the house. Relocation of the home promises to be costly, and certainly, it will bring limitations. Now, new obstacles have entered the equation. Land has been found where the home can be relocated — but it is situated on the other side of the Route 82 bridge, posing extreme challenges to moving the home. Options for relocation in the other direction also are limited due to high property values.
Until now, the Howland Historical Society members have done a yeoman’s job of monitoring the developments that are accessible to the general public in their work to save the building.
For example, members of the group were very in tune with Thursday’s ODOT District 4 meeting in which the planned diverging diamond interchange project at state Routes 46 and 82 intersection was to be discussed.
But going into Thursday’s meeting, Warner Taiclet, vice president of the Howland Historical Society, told us he and other society members and residents had many questions and concerns, largely because they feel they’ve been left out of the loop.
“We are not sure what we will hear since we have not been told anything. We feel like a (fifth) wheel,” Taiclet said.
You see, until now, the group’s role in these conversations has been only as a third party. While the group has great interest in preserving the home and its history, the Howland Historical Society does not own the home nor the land. Rather, it rents the space that houses the organization and its operations.
We believe, in this case, an exception should be made to any rule that limits involvement to the property owner. Because of the group’s knowledge and representation of local historical issues, members should be involved directly in the discussions about the building’s future.
We urge the home’s owner, Altobelli Real Estate, ODOT and township leaders to remain focused on finding a way to make the needed safety upgrades without the forced demolition of one of our area’s oldest homes.
And more than that, we urge them to agree to allow the Howland Historical Society to have a seat at the table while these discussions are taking place.