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Heading now into the public hearing for designating Marpa House as an historic landmark. Here's the presentation:…
The property owner is no longer opposed to the designation, so a lot of the controversy surrounding this is over. I'm not sure how much I'll tweet, until we get to the public hearing.
I guess I'll share this on public feedback so far:
July 18 Landmarks Board: 40 spoke; 19 in support
Aug. 15 Landmarks Board: 10 in favor; 1 opposed
Dec. 5 Landmarks Board: 9 in favor; 4 opposed
31 letters received so far: 18 in support; 4 opposed
Landmarks Board unanimously voted (4-0; one member absent) to landmark
Two frats have called Marpa House home: the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity commissioned the building in 1923 and used the building until 1968. The Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity, a Jewish Fraternity utilized the building from 1968 until 1977.
Then, Vajradhatu (later named Shambhala International), an important part of the Tibetan Buddhist community in Boulder that established the Marpa House co-housing community in 1977.
Here's a story about abuse within Shambhala:…
These three groups are being held up as example of historically significant uses/residents that are landmarking criteria.
So a religious organization accused of rampant sexual abuse — including of children — and two frats. (Insert sarcastic comment here about the sterling reputation of fraternities and the treatment of women.)
OK, I'll stop now. Obviously hard for me to be impartial about this, as a survivor. Forgive my moment of pain/outrage. I'll get back to my job now.
I didn't do a tally of emails to council that were pro/against landmarking, but a cursory overview shows more supporters. I'll conduct that count now.
A little hard to tell just by flipping through, but it looks like 18-20 in support, 8 opposed and three neighbors who didn't give an opinion they were just concerned about work going on there.
Council asking qs now. Wallach asked about some of the significant interior and exterior work that has been done on the building.
Friend referencing the emails from survivors at Shambhala. "I feel like we've been given the historical positives on Marpa House and I feel like there are historic negatives."
Given Shambhala's history and that frats traditionally serve as exclusionary, Friend says, can we get stats or data on crime at this property? And how many other frats have we landmarked? These are places that "trigger trauma" for community members.
James Hewat, senior planner, addressing that. Certainly, given recent news, events and court cases ... that's "certainly something staff has taken into consideration. No question it's a sensitive issue."
"In terms of whether that may negate its historic significance, I'm not really sure. I don't think it necessarily would," he says. Buildings stand for a long time. "Good things happen and bad things may as well."
"I'm not aware of events" that may have happened under the ownership of the frats, Hewat says. "But we would certainly make note of it if we did find something out."
But council is voting tonight, so no chance to get that info unless a majority wanted to push it to third hearing.
Fat freaking chance
Carr: I agree generally with Hewat. "You could use that as a criteria, if there was something that limited the value of the building bc of history."
"This is quasi-judicial, it has to be criteria based. In my view, whether it has" all the other criteria "would be undermined if you felt the building's history" indicated otherwise, Carr says.
Weaver: Generally, it's an "on-balance" decision. You vote if it meets the criteria on balance or not.
Cheri Belz, from Historic Boulder, who applied for the designation, is speaking now. "It's been 48 years since Historic Boulder came into being and saved its first building."
Owner will now be "rehabilitating" Marpa House with exterior changes (facade, windows, etc.)
I think the original plan was to scrape and build new housing...? But I don't remember that well. It feels like a million years ago.
John Kirkland, the property owner, is up now.
"It was never my intent to demolish the building" or significantly change it, Kirkland says.
"I always try to do the right thing in this regard," he says. He's worked with 5 frat buildings before but has "gotten away" from fraternity buildings "to Rachel's point."
Unclear whether or not he's saying that he moved away from frats bc of the concerns over sexual assault culture.... ? Or for another reason.
Whoa. Kirkland CORA'd 2,000 pages of city documents. "There was a very concentrated effort" from city council members and staff to "obstruct" the landmarking process once Kirkland purchased it, he says.
They had 40 years to landmark this and they didn't, Kirkland says. It started once ownership transferred and over objections of the seller (Shambhala) and owner.
"People were trying to stop the sale of this property," including an unnamed council member who apparently emailed that very thing, according to Kirkland.
His slide on this is titled "A deeply flawed process"
Here's a screenshot of other info on that slide:
crap can't attach it
Weaver interrupts Kirkland bc it has no "bearing" on the landmarking of the site. Asks that Kirkland email council instead.

Much easier to ignore an email.
Nobody watching those like they are these meetings.
The point, Kirkland says, is that the process can and has been used to stop the sale and the city should provide an "off-ramp" so this "abuse" of the process doesn't happen in the future.
9 speakers for public hearing
Speaker Stephen van Der Mersch is deriding Kirkland as a "predatory developer" who lied to neighbors and residents of Marpa House.
Virtual pooling of time is happening now.
Daniel Haarburger: "It's worth noting that John Kirkland is current renting the property to the fraternity" so it "feels disingenuous" for the owner to say he's concerned.
Not one of these people actually gives a shit about survivors. I'm fucking sick of being used as political fodder.
Haarburger in favor of landmarking. "Boulder has changed so much since I was a kind. I generally support new development and changes" ... but "Marpa House is one of the gems" of our past.
Sue Ellen Harrison: "I was struck by Rachel Friend's comments ... Yes you're going to have to look at what the balance is, what the balance could be. ... (There is) good and bad (in its history), but it's not enough to not landmark this building."
Jay Masden's wife has been going there for years and has "never once" been sexually harassed or intimidated in any way, so I guess that means it never happened! I mean, I've never been hit by a car on my bike so clearly no cyclists ever get hit by cars.
Kirkland gets a response: This whole thing was started by "fear mongering" and "false assumptions."
No second floor, no fraternity renting it now and no plans for future fraternities, he says in response to community member's claims.
Sorry, that should have been members' as it was plural.
Friend asking about Kirkland's claim that city council members were emailing about Marpa House. Is that commonplace? Or does it require disclosure?
Carr: I think he was referring to past council members. And he already has the information, which is the point of disclosures.
Brockett: I may have talked to a council member about BHP possibly buying it. That doesn't impact landmarking, but if that needs to be disclosed... this is that disclosure.
Friend: I brought up at the retreat that staff should do a better job of pro's and con's on issues. This is an example of where we got a lot of the pros and none of the cons, of the trauma this could cause to community members.
"We're not talking about a historical building that 100 yrs ago had bad things happen ... (it's) possibly inflicting trauma on people today."

Wants more information before a vote.
Wallach: Rachel has raised "some very concerning issues to me, but in the end my personal approach is to look at the historic significance of the building more than the ppl who have been in it and around it."
"As troubled as I am by its bad history, I am prepared to support it. The community supports it. ... From an architectural perspective, it's a worthy building so I'm going to support it... with the caveat that I'm disturbed."
Swetlik: Every single one of these landmarks, we talk about the ppl involved and their impact. "I don't necessarily think we should decouple the two."

Supports "doing more research."
Brockett: "The ppl involved with the buildings are always mentioned in landmarking processes. ... I do feel like the building from a cultural and historic perspective is a landmark building."
Brockett: I was asking about the plaque earlier bc I was thinking about these issues. When we memorialize the building, can we get some acknowledgement of the sexual assault allegations and Shambhala, "which is why the building changed hands in the first place."
"Think about acknowledging the full history of the building."
Young: "It would be interesting to conduct this exercise going back through all our landmarked buildings."

Concurs with Brockett about the plaque.
"I do think our tendency in this country is to erase the bad history."
Joseph: This is an important discussion. I hope we can move past it tonight and have a more honest discussion. I mentioned to Brautigam months ago... what can we do that preserves the legacy of what happened? Even though it was bad.
"What can we do to ensure we don't just landmark and forget about the past that happened?"
"Something that says, we're landmarking this, but here's what we're doing" right now, whether that's prevention for violence against women or providing more funding for arts in minority communities, for properties associated with minority populations.
Yates: "It's the building we're protecting and I'm not sure what we'd learn .... that would change our opinion about the value of preserving this building."

But also agrees with Brockett about the plaque.
Swetlik on board for that, too.
Weaver thanks Friend (as many council members have) for the points she raised. "There are many building across the country that are landmarked that have really ugly histories."
"It's important to evolve the way we look at landmarks. ... It's not the building's fault that people may have done bad things" there, Weaver says. "I think that's worth acknowledging" with a plaque.
"We're trying to look back and make things right that may have not been right."
Maybe we should ask the survivors how they feel about this idea before we act. Just saying. The trauma they experienced was not having a say or power in what happened.
Partly. Obviously it's so much bigger than that.
Planner Hewat again: This is a very important issue. We are certainly sensitive to it. I can make a "commitment" to have "some acknowledgement" of the history.
"It's still sort of playing out," Hewat says, which is challenging. But commits to what council wants.
Weaver: "There's no reason to shy away from bad history. It's history. It happened. We should know the good and the bad."
Friend will vote against the landmark. But asks that council pick a different name "that recognizes the victims and the history" instead of the fraternities, as is the plan now.
LOLOL Yates IMMEDIATELY follows that up by moving to landmark it under the recommended name. Wallach seconds.
Thanks for the consideration, Yates.
Not even one second to stop and consider that. But hey, we get a plaque. So... yay?
Yates thanking all the people.

I would like someone (other than Friend) to thank the survivors who wrote in and shared their stories and thoughts. Or some acknowledgement of how difficult that is.
This is Boulder's 201st landmark
Everybody votes for it but Friend. 7-1
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