To the Editor:
The Dairy Barn was once a part of the Athens Asylum. The floors were covered in cow manure and hay for the first 60 years of its life, and it was slated for demolition. It has now served the Athens County community and Ohio University for 30 years as a center of art and culture, and it is a crown jewel of the community.
The TB Ward building was in service to our fellow human beings for a mere 56 years. It was built to last 10 times longer than the Dairy Barn. It was in fine condition when the OU administration wrested it from the people of Athens County and Ohio in the 1980s. All decline of TB Ward building, which is mostly cosmetic, occurred on OU's watch. Because of the struggle, the legislation that gave the university ownership included a requirement for the establishment of a Community Advisory Committee – (Ohio Substitute House Bill No. 576, effective Sept. 21, 1988). OU has totally disregarded and/or otherwise ignored this Ohio state law, and is forcing a wasteful demolition without involving the community.
For the president, the Board of Trustees and administrators to steadfastly refuse to communicate with local organizations and citizens, except through the media, is inelegant and unbecoming of a center of higher learning. Public servants who use public money to destroy public property, while stonewalling the public, are arrogant and make a mockery of the democratic process. Who are these people?
University administrators commonly leave Athens for greener pastures and leave without looking back, while the Trustees do not live, work, shop or vote here. They develop no deep roots in the community, make no long-term commitment, nor do they respect the local citizenry, yet they have more effect on the Athens community than those who have lived here all their lives.
Forcing their will on the community without convening the Citizen's Advisory Committee before demolishing the TB Ward, a sound piece of local heritage, is a violation of state law and implicates administrators and trustees at the highest level of governance at OU. Their behavior reflects poorly on the rest of the faculty and staff at the institution and is a very poor example to set for students.
As stewards of historic public properties, these highly paid administrators have a responsibility to manage property entrusted in their care with proper regard to the rights of others. Although OU should be commended for restoring certain selected buildings on The Ridges, they have, over the course of many years, not only grossly neglected others but also failed to protect them, and they have ignored the concerns of local citizens, acted like thugs and communicate only through spokespersons.
President McDavis and the members of the OU Board of Trustees should have to go on record and state exactly why this wasteful decision that is contrary to green-building principles, sustainability, and the economy of both human and physical resources, should be made; why they have ignored/violated state law; and why they think that the local community should have no role in the discussion. Third-graders and college students are expected to explain their work.
Hooper Ridge Road