To the Editor:
A critical fabric of a campus I dearly love has now been destroyed forever with the demolition of the Brown House. Despite repeated efforts to engage Ohio University in a conversation that could have avoided this inexcusable decision, the university chose to plow forward despite a public outcry and despite a plethora of fiscally responsible alternatives. And now with the release of public records I requested, the evidence shows serious misrepresentations regarding the process.
First, there was only a singular bid submitted for this project, which might initially explain the exorbitant costs associated with this process. One would ask how a project of this magnitude could have been authorized with a singular bid?
Secondly, I have been advised in writing that the Board of Trustees approved the recommendation to destroy the Brown House. And true to my challenge to legal counsel for the university, I discovered that the Brown House decision was never singularly discussed by the Board of Trustees, but rather the Brown House demolition discussion was included in a Facilities Committee memorandum with a variety of other projects.
There were limited Trustees even present in this committee ratification of a recommendation. At best, it is disingenuous for university representatives to argue this decision was Board approved, as any fair reading of the minutes would indicate the Brown House wasn’t even discussed in an open forum.
And worse, the university has represented that the city of Athens was involved in the decision to demolish the Brown House. I can find not a single employee of the city of Athens who acquiesced, approved or supported the destruction of the Brown House.
As with any public institution of higher learning in our state, there is a requirement of fiscal responsibility. University officials can have a different opinion from mine or the historical preservation activists in the community regarding the historical importance of the Brown House. However, these decision-makers in the university and the Board of Trustees have a moral, ethical, and legal obligation to make sound financial decisions for the taxpayers.
The evidence now shows with the transparency of internal public records that the university failed. There was nothing lost with the failure to engage interested parties to save the Brown House and to save taxpayers valuable dollars. An $800,000 demolition cost is simply unjustifiable.
Residents of Athens should seek accountability for a one-bid analysis and seek a determination as to how this destruction occurred without proper oversight from the Board of Trustees, and to ensure that economic failures like this do not occur in the future. Now let’s see how long we walk up Jeff Hill and view a wasteland as remember this home was tragically destroyed without a specific plan for the future.
Adams Partners Ltd.