To the editor:

Every time I return to Madison I cannot help but lament the fate of the Elks Lodge. Living outside of Madison for a time has only increased my love for our city and the fantastic historic buildings we are so lucky to have, but isn't enough enough? Certainly we would all have loved to see the Elks Lodge restored, but it is now quite clear the current owner is incapable of doing so. How long is the city going to let "Rebarr Restoration" play them?

The time for action is overdue. Mayor Welch and the City Council should have used this situation as an opportunity to demonstrate the effective leadership this city so sorely needs, but have instead seemed content to perpetually pass it off in order to avoid upsetting anyone.

I would certainly like to be able to walk down the sidewalk on the east side of West Street again.

The engineer Rebarr Restoration hired claims the main structure is safe, but what about the building located at the rear of the Elks? I have watched it crumbling, exposed to the elements, and without a roof since the fire in 2006. We should fear for the safety of the neighbors, but the city has taken an "out of sight, out of mind" approach to this. I would encourage everyone to drive through the alley by the Elks and examine the danger this structure poses-not only to the house it is attached to, but to the other near-by buildings as well.

Until a comprehensive solution can be reached, though, how about this: pass an ordinance requiring construction sites that obstruct sidewalks for more than a short period of time to build an underpass of scaffolding in order to keep the sidewalk open. Let's use creative thinking and look to the example of construction sites in Indianapolis and Chicago to resolve at least one part of this problem. I think we can all agree forcing Rebarr Restoration to open the sidewalk would be a welcome development.

Patrick Thevenow

Chicago, Ill.