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Since Villano's intervention board members insist they have circled the wagons around the cottage. "I think it is always nice to bring the past together with the present. We have a hundred-year history and in Miami that's a very long history. It will be nice to see it preserved," says board chairman Barbara Havenick, who has two kids enrolled at the school. She is not an alumna, but has a brother who attended Ransom before it merged with Everglades.
Would she have been satisfied with the halfway repair suggested by Buermann? "You're not going to get me to answer that," she says with a giggle, but then responds anyway. "I would have supported what the board decided."
While the cottage failed to inspire the trustees, the construction boom is all the rage. "It's exciting to be a part of all the building and opportunities for new types of learning," Havenick raves. "The new high-tech performing arts building "is going to take us into the next century. We're doing things we wouldn't have thought about five years ago," she marvels. "It's amazing what's required for education now." Then she hints: "We love to see positive articles coming out about the school, because it's a really positive place where lots of good things are happening."
Adds Joe Buchanan: "Have you seen how much we are doing? In two and a half years we've done seven construction projects."
For Tucker Gibbs the trashing of the cottage was to be expected. "The bottom line in any board of trustees is 'I want to build monuments. I'm the board of trustees. On my watch I want to have more buildings with great plaques and raise more money.' There's nothing sexy to a school about a building like that cottage." Indeed, the parents association, not the trustees, came through with about $35,000 to help fund preservation of the cottage.
Six months after bringing the cottage repair job to a halt, Villano is impatient but optimistic. "I want people a hundred years from now to say, 'Thank God someone was smart enough to preserve this building.' But he doubts the trustees have gained any respect for the idea. "The board said it didn't have enough money, even though they're spending millions of dollars on new classrooms!" he sputters. "The tragedy is not that small number of people wanted to tear it down, but that a large number of people didn't care about it."
Ammidown remains vexed. "The board of trustees has been haphazard and reckless about this whole process when they knew that there was a very strong contingent of people who have wanted to save this building and pledged to cooperate," she chides. "I just think they need to move this along. The longer they delay it, the more it starts to look like a deliberate tactic to let the building deteriorate."
Trustee Buchanan still doesn't understand the commotion. "It was moved at considerable expense and now they're going through the rigmarole of trying to make sure that the preservation work is done," he huffs.