Fort Collins considers new rules for two century-old silos

Historic silos center of preservation debate

FORT COLLINS, Colo. -

A historic landmark or a safety concern?

Two, century-old silos in Fort Collins are at the center of a heated preservation debate, and now the city is looking at new rules.

At the future headquarters of one of Fort Collins' larges employers, Woodward, stand the decaying silos.

"There's just so little history left in Northern Colorado of this age for farms," said Bill Whitley, a local historic preservationist concerned about Woodward's plans to dismantle the towers and turn them into a seating area by the historic barn. "I think it's very unfortunate. I think Woodward would built up an awful lot of community goodwill by preserving them."

The farmstead is already designated as a state historic landmark, but for months now Woodward representatives have been arguing the silos are an imminent threat, which would give them the legal right to demolish them.

However, the city's chief building official ruled that the silos were not, in fact, an imminent threat.

Woodward is appealing that decision to the city council on Jan. 19, and requesting approval of its plan.

Meanwhile, it is possible preservationists could seek nonconsensual historic designation at the local level to protect the silos.

In anticipation, city staff are now considering new rules to streamline that process in cases where landmarks have already been designated historic at the state or federal level.

"When we mapped out the process, we learned that there are some steps in the process that might not be necessary," said Laurie Kadrich, Fort Collins director of Planning, Development and Transportation Services. "This process has never been used in the city of Fort Collins previously, so this is all new territory for us."

Preservationists are still hoping Woodward will leave the silos standing -- a piece of the past -- surrounded by the future.

"It's like anything that's historical," said Whitley. "Once it's gone, you can't get it back."

A Woodward spokeswoman said the company had no one available for comment on this story.

The issue goes before the Landmark Preservation Commission on Jan. 13 and before the city council on Jan. 19.

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