Cedar Falls eyes new option for saving old post office - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Falls eyes new option for saving old post office

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

What should happen to the old post office building in Cedar Falls?  That question's been the center of an ongoing debate. 

Last week, council members voted four to three in favor of demolishing the building.  At that time, it looked like all hope was lost for saving the old post office, but now a compromise may be in the works.

The city has always wanted to keep the old post office lot for future expansion of city hall.  But because of the costs to keep the building in tact--some council members have suggested it be torn down.  Now, there's a new idea is coming to the table that just might save the historic building.

The building has been in the community for nearly a hundred years.  It's been a post office, city annex, and home to various offices, most recently one for the school district.  But as it ages--upkeep only gets more costly.

"It's what I call a money pit. The cost of maintaining it was so prohibitive that our renter moved out. It was the school system. They couldn't afford it. Everything needs to be done in that office. If you went into it, you'd see very little history," said Dave Wieland, Cedar Falls City Council at-large member.

The city's always wanted to retain the post office lot for future expansion of city hall.  But because of the daunting costs to maintain the building, some council members wanted it torn down.  Councilman Wieland was among them, until a new idea just came to the table.

"I was in the mayor's office talking to him and in walks Mare Schmidt, and we got to talking about the post office. She says, 'Why do we have to have the land and the post office together? Why can't we make them separate and do both?' What do you mean? She says, 'Well we did that with the Little Red Schoolhouse, and we moved that station over there, and got funds to do it. Why can't we do that with the post office?'" Wieland said.

The idea of moving the post office building is encouraging to those who want to see this unique architecture saved.  The Cedar Falls Historical Society says it's not just about saving just one building. It's about sending a bigger message that history is important community-wide.

"Well certainly in Cedar Falls, one of our great assets is the historical character. It draws visitors and new residents. So I think while it seems like it's one building sometimes, it's part of a much bigger picture of community involvement, civic pride, and economic development," Karen Smith, executive director for the Cedar Falls Historical Society.

It was recently discovered the old post office building could be eligible for the national register of historic places.  Just being eligible for that designation opens up the shot at tax credits and grants that could be used for restoring the building and possibly even moving it.

The Cedar Falls city council will consider either moving forward with demolition, or giving preservationists more time, possibly up to a year, to pursue funding options for saving and relocating the old post office at its meeting Monday.

 

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