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County enacts Plan B to save historic house

Hood River County is enacting Plan B for the relocation of a historic house that stands in the way of a library expansion.

Plan A fell through last week when resident Stephen Datnoff backed out of a deal to move the Roe-Parker house from 416 State Street to a vacant lot he owns on Montello Avenue.

"It was just becoming too expensive and the regulatory burden was just getting to be too much," said Datnoff, who offered $27,000 in December for the vintage home. It was the sold bid.

After Datnoff changed his mind, Dean Guess, Parks and Buildings director, went back to the drawing board and mapped out an alternate site for the 1,400 square foot home. The 100-year-old Queen Anne style cottage will now be placed on a county-owned lot off Sherman Avenue, just southeast of the Horse Feathers Restaurant.

Guess has estimated that moving the dwelling intact up Seventh Street will cost the county about $30,000. He said between $65,000-$70,000 will also be spent for utilities and construction of a foundation that will include a daylight basement to offset the steep slope. To keep construction plans for the library renovation on schedule, Guess intends to have the house moved by the first week in July and put on the market shortly thereafter. Proceeds from its sale will be used to help offset the cost of the $3.4 million project.

"We are trying to position the house so that it can be used as either a residence or business, and our goal is to have it sold by fall for as much money as possible," said Guess.

In late March, city officials saved the house from demolition by agreeing to allow the severe pruning of the old maple near the corner of Sixth and State streets so that the utility lines could be lowered to the ground. That move saved $22,000 in costs to cut and re-splice the lines that contain 200-300 individual cable pairs. Datnoff was also given permission to limb eight or nine trees within the city right-of-way and remove two to three others.

However, Guess said that with Datnoff's bid out of the picture, the new moving plan will actually only necessitate the pruning of the one tree and the removal of a horse chestnut tree on the library grounds. A dogwood tree and other plants near the house are being distributed throughout the park surrounding the library.

In November of 2000, Hood River County voters approved a $3 million bond levy to renovate the 85-year-old library and add a new wing that would almost triple its size. That funding is being added to $400,000 raised by the Library Foundation, which has just started the Completion Campaign to score an additional $600,000 for new books, furnishings and technology equipment not allocated under the special tax measure.

To date, the 12-member foundation has netted $81,600 toward that goal from private and charitable organizations. However, $50,000 of that funding was contributed as a challenge grant by Paul G. Allen, owner of the Portland Trailblazers and Seattle Seahawks sports teams.

June Knudson, county librarian, is hopeful the community will not only step forward with the monies needed to meet that challenge, but will add at least $100,000 of the remaining capital. The foundation believes it will be able to score the remaining $450,000 from other endowments.

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