Jefferson Elementary Parking Lot Plan Raises Concerns - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Jefferson Elementary Parking Lot Plan Raises Concerns

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The Muscatine school district's plan to build a new Jefferson elementary school concerns historic preservationists.

The plans call for a new parking lot to be built across the street from the school.

Right in the middle of a block with architecture unique to the city.

The new school will be built right next to the existing building.

On top of the current school playground and parking lot.

The district will replace that lot with a bigger across the street, clearing three homes the school district already owns.

It says that area will be large enough for all the school parking needs.

a parking lot historians fear will drive away the rest of the historic homes.

"There's not much of this in Muscatine if there's any at all left, and these two homes are in pretty good condition, it'd be quite a shame if they started going down the hill because of tearing down the homes behind them," says Historic Preservation Commission Vice Char Devin Pettit. He says these may be some of the last one story Queen Anne style homes in Muscatine. They're in good shape, but he worries the school district's parking lot plan will change that.

"If these properties are gone, there's not really going to be any backyard for those houses facing Mulberry and we know that those properties facing Mulberry are historically significant because of their architecture," says Pettit.

The commission has no power to stop the parking lot, but Pettit says this area needs to be researched. The houses the school district owns are over one hundred years old themselves. All three were built in the 1890's, but the commission hasn't had the money to study them.

"We have not gotten a chance to do work on research for historic nominations on these properties, we don't know exactly what they're historic report is," says Pettit.

The school district says the new parking lot will meet all of Jefferson's needs and eliminate dangerous on street parking next to the school. It bought the houses over the last two years to address those safety concerns. Concerns Pettit says should be balanced with historical research.

"No matter where they build in this part of town they could be tearing down historic homes so they really don't have a choice of what it would be, they'd be tearing down something," says Pettit.

The school district says it's willing to sell the old homes to new owners if they want to pay to move them.

There is time to explore that option, the district has not set a construction schedule.