An Open Letter to the Seneca County Commissioners from Preservation Ohio, Ohio’s statewide preservation organization:
As we understand the situation, at least two of the present set of Commissioners have decided to demolish your venerable, and valuable, courthouse.
We will not attempt here to repeat the excellent arguments in favor of preservation which have been stated by the Courthouse Redevelopment Group, the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, the Tiffin Historic Trust, and others and on multiple occasions.
Instead, a prediction is offered and aimed at the Commissoners. It is bleak, but mark our words – it is undoubtedly accurate.
First, even in the short term, loss of the current Seneca County Courthouse will have a negative impact on Downtown Tiffin economic development. Those individuals and companies who might have invested in buildings downtown will instead chose other communities, as the only available tax incentives for their upkeep and renovation are soon lost. Also, because in the current economy marketability is predicated on uniqueness, those few investors with the disposable income to do so without any financial incentives will instead locate where such an atmosphere is maintained – not in Tiffin, Ohio.
Second, in the longer term, the mid to late 19th century and early 20th century buildings of Downtown Tiffin will accelerate their deterioration as reinvestment stops. The general business climate of the area will decline rapidly, affecting the tax base of the community and the amount of resources available to provide city and county services.
Third, the impact will extend to Heidelberg and Tiffin Universities, which will find it increasingly difficult to attract students and teachers, and also to the community’s other economic development and attraction/retention efforts.
Fourth, this action will resonate throughout the community as a signal of extreme pessimism, in turn fueling hundreds of individual decisions that will have a negative cumulative impact that will handicap Tiffin for generations.
In the last Ohio county seat town that made this disastrous choice, it took 40 years for a turnaround to begin. Long before those decades are over, Tiffin will have taken an incredibly short-sighted and irreversible turn toward economic irrelevance. And, in the process, irreplaceable history will be lost forever.
And at that point, a future generation will look back at the decision to demolish and realize it for what it was – a horrendous and gut-wrenching mistake.