FEMA representatives look for local input on flood demolitions


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Iowa City residents may have the final say on whether several University of Iowa buildings damaged during the 2008 flood will be demolished.

Following a request from the UI in 2009 to have the buildings demolished, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said they want input from the UI students, professors, and the public on the historic structures during a Tuesday meeting.


"The original Arts Building constructed in 1936 is of primary interest to me and to many interested in historic preservation of the college campus," said UI Archivist David McCartney. "It's a symbol of an era of great dedication to the university."

In order to avoid demolition, FEMA's plans include mothballing a section of the Art Building that the University would be able to find a use for later on, creating a book describing the architectural history of the buildings, and a documentary film reflecting the important history of the original Hancher Auditorium, Voxman School of Music, and the Art Building.

FEMA historic preservation specialist Teri Toye said the organization will take comments from the public for 30 days via email. Toye also said the group will speak with any other interested parties.

"When there are adverse effects to historic properties, we take steps to minimize effects," she said.

FEMA hopes to hear from people such as art Professor Emeritus Joseph Patrick, who taught in the building for 39.

"We need to understand that history of community, and our culture is somehow symbolized and embodied in the buildings of which history happens," Patrick said.

As a result of reconnaissance survey findings, it was determined the historic river valley — where these buildings reside — was eligible for a memorandum agreement that will preserve the buildings as much as possible.

Patrick said he hopes others in the community think critically about the future of the area.

"I would urge the people who make these decisions to consider not just the building but also the psychology of what can be done to the better or what might be done to its detriment," Patrick said.

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