It was heartbreaking for many Waynesburg residents to read Dave Pollock’s June 12 letter about Waynesburg University’s plans to demolish the Peoples Bank Building. Many residents bemoan the further loss of a small-town environment and the advancement of long-term solutions for short-term problems.
The Peoples Bank Building is an archetypal example of small-town American financial architecture, embodying characteristics of strength, confidence, endurance and integrity. Institutional buildings such as these were the backbone of rural communities. Removing this cultural symbol leaves not only a ghastly pockmark on our landscape, but it highlights the university’s failure to capitalize the human power and knowledge of its students and professors to create a proper path for the social and economic development of Waynesburg.
Preserving the downtown is not simply a matter of aesthetics or quality of life, but it is also a tool for neighborhood stabilization and community revitalization that is connected to broader strategies of land use, smart growth and job creation. Benefits include economic stimulus through rehabilitation projects, wealth gains and tax revenue generation through property value appreciation, and jobs supported from these activities. Civic pride is a vital, intangible benefit as well.
The values of the institution are illustrated during campus development, and this will speak volumes on how it interacts with the town. This is an opportunity for Waynesburg University to strengthen the town-gown connection and truly become a beacon of the community.
Andrew A. Evick