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County must look at every opportunity

A popular mantra in the real estate business is, “Location. Location. Location.” It is a consideration which the Lawrence County Commissioners may need to weigh very carefully.

The commissioners would be wise to fully look at all the options before committing to the massive undertaking associated with renovating Memorial Hall to use as the base for the county’s emergency services.

The county has been eyeing funding opportunities for the Memorial Hall project for several months, although some have recently fallen through.

But a new alternative was formally presented last week when the Ironton Board of Education offered to sell the former post office building to the county for one-tenth the cost.

The building, located right next door to the jail and across the street from the courthouse, makes a lot of sense for the county. Even if the county didn’t want to restore or renovate the building now, the property alone could be useful in years to come for possible jail expansion or other county offices.

The county commissioners must decide on its primary focus. Is it historic preservation or providing services to the citizens in the most efficient and economical way?

Although the sentiment to do both at the same time is certainly an admirable one, the reality is it simply may not be possible.

This isn’t to say that Memorial Hall can’t or shouldn’t be saved. The building has lots of history, as evidenced by a story in today’s newspaper, and holds a soft spot in the hearts of many Irontonians. This is why Lawrence County needs a dedicated non-profit, non-governmental organization focused on historic preservation. This entity could lead the way and partner with government rather than projects being solely driven by entities funded by the taxpayers.

Until that happens, the county is smart to move forward with its plans to consider all options, but clearly defining its goals has to be part of the discussion.