The needler in the haystack.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lampkin House costs could reach $1.5M on buildings alone



A visit to the Clerk's office today to review the backup information for the Lampkin House proposal being discussed by the Council this evening show estimates for preserving the building alone (house and barn) to come in at about $1.5M.

While this is put as on the 'upper' side, anyone who has experience with public projects knows this may be considerably short of what actual final costs are, given unexpected issues that come up as work is done.

This is also without consideration of the costs of operating any such 'park' as is being proposed.

I think this could be a very worthwhile project, but the lack of a clear plan to have this be a County park and County project do not reflect well on its prospects at this time.

Here's hoping the Council will ask lots of questions this evening.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let's break down that $1.5 mil and see what it really means. The proposal is calling on the 20,000 families in Plainfield to pay $75 each towards this project. Why don't we pass the hat and see how much families are actually willing to put in? I think they have other preferences.

Plainfield has the Drake house, and despite all those who like it, how many visitors go there each year? I find this area, which also has the Cannonball House in Scotch Plains, and Liberty Hall and the Boudinot House in Elizabeth, well served by historic sites. Any Rockefeller's out there to step in (he saved colonial Williamsburg and built the Cloisters.)

William H. Michelson said...

Unfortunately this presentation was not coordinated with the Historic Preservation Commission (on which I serve), even though it originated with us. We agreed to a structural evaluation by an engineer, to determine what could and should be done to protect what's left of the house and barn, and what it would cost. The report, which was not shared with the HPC in advance of Monday's Council meeting, went on to itemize the work that would have to be done to turn the buildings into what Gail Hunton described to me as a "museum quality restoration project", and that figure was in the million-and-a-half range. All the HPC wants the City to do is to buy the property, while a window of opportunity exists (due to a bankruptcy case), do temporary work to prevent further deterioration, and then try to turn it over to someone else. It could be sold either to the county or to a private buyer willing to do something to repair and save the buildings. We had a buyer last year but the death of the last owner placed legal obstacles in the way. We may be past that problem now. At Council, however, defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory by overstating the City's long-term involvement. I hope the proposal is resubmitted to the Council next month, as the short-term proposal it was supposed to be.