April 23, 2014 —
MILFORD, PA — The Pike County Commissioners said they were wrapping up the multi-month debate with preservation activists over their plans to move or demolish one of the buildings in Milford’s National Historic Preservation District for construction of an addition to the county courthouse.
“The county intends to move forward… to have a modern-day secure facility,” Commissioners Chair Rich Caridi said on April 17.
One area of dispute is a contention that the PA Museum and Historic Commission has oversight over any demolition. Caridi said that the commissioners have taken “unjustified flack” over supposed state involvement.
County solicitor Tom Farley said he researched claims and found court decisions determined that the state commission does not have oversight over historic county or school district buildings. “Organizations saying the state has authority in the demolition of the Kenworthy Building are inaccurate,” Farley said.
Commissioner Karl Wagner said the county’s intent was not demolition. “We made a nice offer to the [Historic Preservation] Trust to move it to one or two county-owned sites up the street. If the building means that much, we’re willing to give $40,000—now let them step up to the plate.”
Commissioner Matt Osterberg said activists’ claims they didn’t know about it were not correct. “Here’s the letter,” he said flourishing the document.
He admitted that the formal letter of notification was new, but noted that the county’s offer had been repeated several times at the commissioners’ meetings and published in various accounts of those meetings.
Caridi said one of the activists’ recent offers of a better and cheaper alternative building plan hasn’t yielded any results. “I said, ‘Let’s have it.’ To date there’s been nothing forthcoming. I’ve checked every day,” he said.
Pike Concerned Taxpayers member Matt Ebert, who made the offer of an alternative plan, did not appear at last week’s meeting.
Saying that it was time to move forward, Caridi said the commissioners have made every effort to be respectful of Milford Borough’s authority. “Milford is the county seat and we want good working conditions with municipal leaders,” he said.