Long days journey into a New England city night
To the Editor:
It is sad watching the demise of the St. Francis Church. North Adams, "the City of Steeples," has the look of one those German cities one sees along the Rhine.
But we don't live in a prosperous social democracy. We cannot afford such extravagance and beauty.
It was appropriate how the city and others responded when the St. Francis Church began to fall. The quick response is to be commended in the face of what was unfolding.
We were lucky a child was not near the crumbling relic. A girl with a hula hoop. Public safety comes first.
But what of the other crumbling edifices in North Adams and elsewhere?
The St. Francis case teaches us that more must be done with older, privately held buildings.
We can look to see what others have done, with public infrastructure: the national and state governments. Our nation is burdened with old and aging iron and steel truss bridges, some dating to the Industrial Period.
A "Red List" was established. Deficient bridges are now surveyed and judged. Pressure to replace is increased and monies found for this endeavor.
And the list offsets efforts by historic preservationists and other sentimentalists who have had earlier successes: saving wooden covered bridges and stone arch bridges. These are now almost impossible to replace.
A Commonwealth "Red List" for privately owned heritage structures is in order. One that calls for stiff engineering studies on structures older than 75 years and taller than three stories.
This list is not only for public safety, but also for rejuvenating the economy, freeing up building lots for better uses. Let the bulldozers roll and the wrecking balls fly. We have only just begun.
Steve Lindsey, Keene, N.H.