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Carrollton Council OKs $10,000 for Masterson House repairs

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

By PHYLLIS McLAUGHLIN

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The News-Democrat

Carrollton City Council voted to approve a $4,000 grant from its Enterprise Incentive Program to the Port William Historical Society to help with the cost of repairs to the Masterson House.

Council also approved a motion by Kevin Craig to find an additional $6,000 from the city’s 2008-09 general fund.

Though usually earmarked for commercial projects within the city limits of Carrollton, with a limit of $4,000 per project, a provision in the EIP ordinance allows council to fund special projects above that limit, at its discretion, and to extend funding to properties outside the city limits that are on the National Register.

The city’s contributions will be in addition to $15,000 earmarked by Carroll County Fiscal Court from it’s current budget, which brings the total to $25,000 – about half of what the group says it needs for the most pressing repairs, said Sam Burgess, vice president of the historical society.

“We need that much to do what we need to do right now,” he said.

Substantial work hasn’t been done to the house, built circa 1790, since it was rehabilitated in 1980. At that time, the historical society obtained a $108,000 matching grant from the Kentucky Heritage Commission to rehabilitate the structure. According to an article in the Sept. 19, 1980, issue of The News-Democrat, the project included new windows, a new roof, plaster repair and new drywall, a new concrete slab in the basement, a new kitchen and restroom facilities, a new septic system, new electrical service and wiring, new heating and air-conditioning, and masonry work, including tuckpointing the brick.

“We’ve reached the life-expentency of what was done 30 years ago,” Burgess said of the 1980 rehabilitation project. “The windows are literally falling out.”

Historical society President Karen Claiborne provided council with the results of a recent inspection of the historic house, along with estimates for specific projects.

Burgess said replacing the roof and the heating and air-conditioning system top the list; replacing the windows would be the next thing to do, “as quickly as we can.”

Burgess said the historical society wants to replace the windows in a style “appropriate to the building’s age,” and added that the existing shake-shingle roof installed in 1980 should be replaced with similar roofing, because of its historic accuracy.

Claiborne said the society favors a geothermal system for heating and air-conditioning, for which she provided a list of bids.

Claiborne said the geothermal system would cost about $16,000 and reduce expenses by 60-70 percent a month, compared to a conventional system, that would cost $5,000 to $6,000 and reduce expenses 40-60 percent.

“It might cost more to put in, but [a geothermal system] will keep costs down and lessen our carbon footprint,” Claiborne said, adding that such a system recently was installed in the Butler-Turpin State Historic House at General Butler State Resort Park.

Geothermal technology, she said, also would provide the most cost-effective method of climate control, needed year round to protect valuable antique furniture that has been donated to the house. Conven-tional air-conditioning window units would only be turned on when there is an event at the house, or when it’s open for tours, she said. That would allow heat and humidity to build up inside the house, which is damaging to the antiques.

The historical society recently obtained its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, which provides tax benefits to donors.

Burgess said the society is planning to seek any grants it may be eligible for to fund any other work that needs to be done at the house.

“We are willing to go out and beg for funding,” he said.

Prior to council’s vote, Mayor Dwight Louden acknowleged the importance of historic preservation.

“I think it’s extremely important to preserve the Masterson House,” he said. “But the question is, how much can we afford? There’s got to be a way to not make it a burden on taxpayers.”

“It hasn’t been a burden on taxpayers,” Claiborne countered. With the exception of $5,000 the society receives annual from Fiscal Court for upkeep, historical society members raised other money needed for utilities and other expenses.

Additionally, Arkema, which owns property surrounding the house, takes care of mowing the lawn in summer, which saves the group $1,500 to $2,000 a year said Councilwoman Nancy Jo Grobmyer. Grobmyer also is a member of the historical society.