Wednesday, July 7, 2010

If Good Fences . . .

make good neighbors, then what do bad fences do?

I'll probably tick off a few readers with this post, but that's what happens sometimes.

My house is a stone's throw from the Penn State campus. That may be a slight exaggeration. Perhaps a baseball's pitch from a professional player. Regardless, I'm close. This campus has everything. Aside from classrooms, dorms, and a student center, there are theaters, a creamery, cows, an arboretum, and a spiritual center. A large, quite new, spiritual center that is only two pitches from my house. This center is for all denominations. Apparently the Catholics don't want to worship there. Several reasons were cited. One reason being that people from other religions touched their religious items when a change of denomination required a shuffling about of spiritual what-nots. The local Catholic CAMPUS (my emphasis) Ministry decided that just wasn't going to do for them. So if CAMPUS is not going to serve them, where are they to go?

Across the street to my block!! Why, no one would mind if a nice little church moved into their neighborhood, would they? All sorts of churches are in all sorts of neighborhoods all over the country. Why would the people of my neighborhood object to this? Petitions were signed. Lawyers were engaged (and well paid). After backing, forthing and appealing, it looked to the folks of my neighborhood that the proposed destruction of homes was not going to happen after all. Then the judge decreed (while looking up, no doubt) that we should bow to a "higher power" and let others do to our neighborhood what they would.

Besides, it was argued, these houses (3 or possibly 5, depending on how many folks want to drive and park here) were not architecturally significant. They were all rented out to students. They couldn't possibly be worth saving.

This one looks pretty nice to me.

The local Catholic group does not have enough money to build yet. They have raised approximately 60% of the necessary funds. Quite possibly, these houses will be torn down and we'll have an empty lot to show for it for the next several years.

So, the fences are all up around these buildings. Had I known when they were going to be put up, I could have at least taken a shovel out and dug up a few daylilies and roses from their gardens. But since the property now belongs to the Catholic church, they do not have to answer to the neighborhood. All they have to do is raise money, put up huge chain-link fences, destroy fine homes against the will of the neighborhood, and generally say F-you to those who live in this neighborhood every day.

Very soon, trucks of destruction and (only possibly) trucks of building will rumble three feet from my house. Perhaps the message will spread that my neighborhood is a great place to build facilities that should be on campus (hell, campus is in the name of the facility). More houses will be purchased and torn down by other groups for buildings and their parking lots.

I guess the little guy always loses. He just can't pay enough for the most powerful lawyers. But even that doesn't seem to matter if the big guy upstairs has a direct line to the judge. I really didn't know that the "higher power" had a dislike for old neighborhoods.

I will be back to regularly scheduled artwork talk soon. Thanks for letting me rant.


Marty Mason said...

Sorry to hear that the big dogs won this battle. Rant need to let off steam so you can get back to your studio. Good luck with the New Orleans gallery submissions!

paula said...

jesus christ like one more stupid church is going to make the world a better place...probably the opposite if you ask me.

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ArtPropelled said...

Frustrating! A similar incedent happened in our old neighbourhood. Petitions were signed and the neighbourhood won ..... for 2 years, then out of the blue we noticed a beautiful old house had been demolished and a new building was going up on the site.

jason said...

Hey, you rant right on. I don't blame you at all.

And seriously, those fences make it look like a prison

Fibra Artysta said...

How frustrating, that's going to cause a huge amount of disruption for a long time. Sorry to hear about it.

Nellie's Needles said...

... and progress marches (tramples) on!

Susan said...

It is sad that one denomination thinks they are better than the rest and can't use the same facilities. That picture of that house with all of that stonework, I would love it. Too bad you did not get any of the plants.