ANGOLA — The Angola Historic Preservation Commission has decided to write to the Indiana Department of Transportation requesting it be given time to photograph and document a Pleasant Township farmstead before it is bulldozed to make room for a traffic circle.
The Commission on Tuesday voted to respond to a letter it received from the state agency about a property at 1025 N. C.R. 200W that is slated for potential demolition as part of an upcoming intersection improvement project.
The letter, which was in response to a request for a review of the site to determine if it had historic potential, claimed the 9-acre property, which contains a house and three outbuildings, does not appear to meet the criteria for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places and is therefore not worth preserving.
According to the INDOT letter, farms as a resource in Steuben County are not rare or scarce. There are eight other farmsteads in Pleasant Township with equal or greater historical status than the one at 1025 C.R. 200 West, including ones with better examples of outbuildings or ones with the primary farmhouse in more of an original condition, including the one right across the street at 2025 C.R. 100N. The letter goes on to say it is fair to assume there could be even more that just haven’t been surveyed and rated.
Under the arrangement discussed Tuesday, each HPC member will write their own letter requesting the opportunity to photograph and document the site as well as the opportunity to ask the property’s owners to preserve anything historic from the buildings before they are torn down. The letters will then be forwarded to the agency before April 15, the deadline to submit a response.
Commission member Lou Ann Homan, who spoke in favor of replying to INDOT, said the letters represented one way that HPC could show local residents that it made an effort at preservation, even if the property in question is outside of the body’s jurisdiction.
“This way, when it goes down, and people in town will be upset like we’ll know they’ll be, we can say here’s what we did, we tried,” she said.
Steuben County has been working on a project to improve and enhance the safety and efficiency of the intersection of C.R. 100N and C.R. 200W. The intersection is just outside of Angola’s city limits, but within the city’s extra territorial jurisdiction area, which is for planning and zoning.
The project was initiated by the Steuben County Highway Department. It is scheduled to be constructed in 2024. Environmental study, which includes historic features, has been conducted by INDOT.
A Road Safety Audit and Hazard Elimination Study determined that the volume of traffic is too high for that intersection. The assessments also found that due to the intersection’s geography, stormwater runoff ponds at the intersection and creates dangerous conditions during adverse weather. It concluded that intersection improvements are needed to reduce the possibility of crashes.
To alleviate those issues, the intersection would be reconstructed as a single lane roundabout.
A storm sewer would also be installed to drain the intersection and funnel stormwater runoff into the Carpenter Ditch, about 1,400 feet east of the intersection. The Carpenter Ditch drains into Crooked Lake. The storm sewer would run along the north side C.R. 100.
The project would require reconstructing just less than a half mile of roadway, and would require land acquisition of more than half an acre for right of way purposes.
Although work on the project will not begin anytime soon, Deb Parcell told HPC members if they wanted to make an effort to salvage anything from the property it would be better to move quickly.
“We’re still a couple years out, so it’s not like we have to do anything in the next three months, but we should not wait either to attempt to contact the owners,” Parcell said.
Jen Sharkey, former Steuben County Highway engineer who is still working with the county part time, said additional environmental review due to the home has already cost about $4,700 more than budgeted.
Sharkey said she didn’t think the additional review would delay the project.
“I don’t believe it will delay the project. It will just add some additional cost to the environmental phase,” she said.
The property for years had been owned by Paul and Alice Eble, who are both deceased. It is now owned by the Ralph Trine Trust.