Friday, June 26, 2009

Carpetbagging

The Growler ambled into the Council Chamber at City Hall last Wednesday hoping to take in a little of the Parker-Gray BAR discussion on developer William Cromley's proposal to demolish the American Legion building at 224 N. Fayette. (It was an "information session" for dialog between developer and board, and was not a formal hearing. That will come later.)

The chamber was virtually empty and only two or three other members of the public were present. But the sight that caused the Cranky One's blue eyes to goggle was the presence of Charles Trozzo.

For those not in the know, Mr. Trozzo — a proud resident of stately lower Duke Street in Old Town — is a historic preservation activist and chairman of the City's Historical Restoration & Preservation Commission (often referred to colloquially as the "long name commission"). He was also one of the leaders a few years ago of the successful campaign to preserve the Gunston Hall apartment complex on S. Washington Street.

Quel surprise! The Growler has never known Mr. Trozzo to show the slightest interest in our neighborhood; as far as the Cranky One recalls he has never attended Parker-Gray BAR hearings, was a no-show at the 2005 symposium on Parker-Gray history, and didn't turn up at of the Braddock Road plan charettes from 2005-2008, where one of the major recurring themes was how to ensure new development respected the historic district's architecture.

Nor did Mr. Trozzo play any visible role in persuading Council to pursue and fund the Parker-Gray nomination to the state and national historic registries.

The Growler had to leave early, but the beauty of the City's Web site is that you can view these hearings later online. And with a quick fast forward, here was Mr. Trozzo, pleading for adaptive reuse of the Legion — a building with major structural issues and little or no historic material left, which the City itself declined over the years to buy and preserve knowing it was a potential money pit. The 1991 Braddock Road plan envisioned it as a redevelopment site.

So why is the distinguished Mr. Trozzo suddenly advocating for Parker-Gray history and architecture after years of apparent indifference?