This proposal might turn into a classic showdown between economic development and historic preservation in Geneva.
On one hand, we have a historic building that is shown proudly in Geneva Chamber of Commerce brochures. It's a building style that goes back to the 1930s and one that's considered a milestone marker of the Lincoln Highway.
On the other hand, it's a former gas station. And the bank's plans represent new development at a time when the tax base—particularly in downtown Geneva—is shrinking.
Development versus historic preservation was one of the benchmark issues of the 1980s and '90s in Geneva. In those days, there was compromise and there was dialogue, but perhaps more often than not, historic preservation won the day. Developers were asked to pay more to renovate or adapt, or plans were turned down so that the next developer could have a shot.
Such was the case with, for example, The Herrington, which was a former creamery building in Geneva.
But in these economic times, can the city afford to do that? Can any government in good conscience say no to good-faith development in an economy that makes it more and more difficult for anyone to build or expand?
These are the higher issues facing Geneva. And the discussion starts tonight. At 7 p.m. at the Public Works facility, the Historic Preservation Commission will get its first look.
What do you think? Should the city say yes to history or yes to development in Geneva's downtown?