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Superior Well Office group firms up their proposal

By Eric Copeland, Managing Editor, Excelsior Springs Standard

Members of the grassroots group that formed to push for preserving the office, the last existing structure of its kind at the last existing “old” mineral water well site in town, have given themselves an April 1 deadline to get together $25,000 in firm monetary commitments and in-kind contributions — or they’ll allow the city to proceed with demolition of the property.

Janet Blauvelt, who heads up the committee, was joined by several others in the group at the Monday, Oct. 19, meeting of the Excelsior Springs City Council as she presented the latest revision of the plan.

The attention centers around a house located at the corner of Superior Street and Roosevelt Avenue — or, more precisely, what’s  inside the house. Next door to the west is a catwalk that extends out to a tower that contains the old Superior mineral water well site. For some time, the city has planned to re-point the stones in the tower, shore up the catwalk and build a retaining wall along the steep hillside. But when they purchased the house and went to tear it down, they found that the old office that accompanied the well site was still intact inside, in the oldest portion of the structure.

However, preserving the office was going to cost more money than some city leaders liked, and it was going to require more retaining wall as well.

So the Superior Well Office group formed.

Much of the group’s original proposal — to allow them to remove some of the later additions to the house and renovate the old office space — remains unchanged from the presentation they made to the council last month. But Blauvelt said after meeting at the site with Public Works Director Chad Birdsong, they agree that there’s not enough room on the property to build a parking lot of any real size. So instead, she said, the committee had agreed that the best plan was one that the city had planned to do even if the house comes down: clear the scrubby trees behind the house and grade the land to slope down to the level of Linear Park, which is below.

“We had a very positive meeting with Chad (Birdsong), and we’ve already begun on the marketing plan,” Blauvelt said.

Another alteration in the proposal, she said, is that while the Excelsior Springs Museum & Archives still agrees to work as a foundation partner, accepting temporary ownership of the property while work is being done so that volunteers can help in the effort, that transfer won’t take place until after April 1, assuming the group can gather the support they need.

And one more change — if the committee can’t get everything going by April 1, they’ll step away. “If we do not make our commitments by April 1, then the museum will not take title and the city can raze it,” Blauvelt stated. “We give up.”

To read more, see the print edition or e-edition of the Tuesday, Oct. 27, Standard.