To the editor:
Cultural heritage and authenticity are some of the attributes of a historic neighborhood. The review standards for impacts upon a historic district and environs review are required and well documented. Recent commentary by Mayor Schumm during the approval process for the “more urbanism” projects at Ninth and New Hampshire are incorrect. It is not correct for any city commissioner to suggest backtracking on the decades-long progress of historic review and preservation in Lawrence.
The recent fiasco of the Varsity House demolition with closed-door negotiations between the Historic Resources Commission, Lawrence Preservation Alliance and Tom Fritzel should also be brought into question by the mayor.
Recent studies in historic preservation find that it can require up to 80 years for a new energy-efficient building to compensate, through more efficient operations, for the negative climate-change impacts created during new construction. Most climates will require 20 to 30 years to break even vs. the reuse and improvement of an existing structure. (Study by Cascade Green Building Council)
Energy performance of the restored Varsity House should be part of the project requirements. A gross violation of historic preservation guidelines has occurred on this project by the complete dismantling of the historic residence – also eradicating the value of building reuse in terms of sustainable or green construction practices. Perhaps the contractor should have his license suspended for any new projects until Varsity House is completed in observance of Historic Preservation guidelines and LEED certification requirements.