MICHAEL DAVIS PHOTOS
Michael Heagerty: Voted against the preservationists in a contentious battle over historic designation of an East Genesee Street building (below).
Heagerty acknowledged that there was pressure from within the Democratic majority, but he held firm in the end. “I’m going to stand by my guns. I didn’t come in to this to be told by the caucus how to vote. I’m sorry if I pissed off my colleagues. I did a lot of study and had a few sleepless nights over this one.”
Like many of his colleagues, Heagerty finds fault with the process for historical designation. “There are some flaws in the system. If we are going to force people’s hand, we have to give them some incentive. In order to be compliant, it is pricey. I know, I live in a house with a historic designation. If I want to put in vinyl replacement windows, I can’t, and I wouldn’t. But in this case you would have needed a philanthropist to come along and make that Kingsley-True house a functioning Ronald McDonald House.”
Heagerty gave Mayor Matt Driscoll lots of credit for his attempts to initiate dialogue between the preservationists and Ronald McDonald. “The city tried to act as a liaison. The mayor tried to get the two forces together. That wasn’t happening. He did an excellent job, so each side could get by the misconceptions they had about the other. Unfortunately, they could not come up with a solution. The mayor didn’t have to step in to this one, but he did.”
Why would the guy who fixed up the Palace, a 1920’s theater located at 2384 James St., vote in such a way that all but assures the demolition of the Kingsley-True house? “Actually the Palace is not a historic landmark,” noted Heagerty, “but if I wanted to sell it to Rite Aid and they wanted to tear it down, the same process would be triggered. And the city would probably have a case.”
Heagerty isn’t convinced that Ronald McDonald will demolish the house. “I don’t think it’s over yet. But if they do knock it down, we’re going to hold them to high standards. We want them to build a real home there.”