Letter: Quit wrecking historical landmarks for financial interests of the few

News of the destruction of the historic Hub Junction Bus Stop came to me over the weekend like an arrow through the heart. My family settled in that area in 1861 and my dad, as president of the Historical Society, was instrumental in restoring the nearby Old Brick Store, the first courthouse in Newton County.

This transit structure had stood as a symbol of our area's hospitality and beauty and shelter for nearly 100 years -- probably as long as bus service operated as one of the chief modes of transportation.

As a youth, I had seen letters from all over the world written by people who traveled through and had a layover or rest stop or lunch or dinner stop at the "World's Largest Rural Bus Stop."

This was the only internationally known historic site in Newton County. Many of these visitors could not speak English. A majority came into the ports of Savannah, Jacksonville, or South Carolina, headed for the Midwest or other destinations to start a new life in their adopted country.

The property was likely purchased with the intention of building a gas station. My research indicates that someone complained to the county about the condition of the building. Our code enforcement officials, many of whom are newcomers without full knowledge of the circumstances, likely issued letters of conformity or condemnation. The usual excuse for demolishing our local landmarks has been that "it has a structural problem," although this excuse never seems to be backed up by engineering inspection.

My contact with the company that owns the property, who is also my neighbor, told me the correspondence from the county left them with little choice even though they had no specific plans for the property at this time.

I firmly believe neither party was to blame for this tragedy. After I got seven phone calls over the weekend concerning our great loss, the street talk seemed to be that a landowner in the area wanted another roundabout at that intersection, and it was obvious the historic structure stood in the way. This led to the destruction of a place in time remembered by people from around the world.

In case you are not getting the message here, it is way past time to stop catering to the minority elitists and stand our ground. What will happen next? Maybe we will build a new courthouse annex or a new county administration building right downtown where there is no parking, and we will have to build a multilevel parking deck at $10,000 per space instead of ground parking at $1,500 per space. Or maybe we will build a civic center and hotel on a postage stamp-sized piece of property to attempt to protect the financial interests of a few.

I would like to point out these evidentiary structures, already built or planned, prove that elitists are not interested in community preservation but community manipulation. Do not allow your elected officials to be enablers of greedy actions.

"Preservation" is obviously of no importance here because we just lost another of the few remaining pieces of precious antiquity, our middle ages so to speak. These community "overlays" being prepared seem to have little or no interest in preservation, as this example clearly points out.

-- Samuel M. Hay III