By Christine Bryant
An ordinance that would open bidding to paint the Livingston House is working its way through the approval process, though what color the house will be painted is still being debated.
At the May 9 Reynoldsburg City Council meeting, two residents spoke before council, offering concern for a proposal that could change the color of the historic home from red back to its original color of white with green shutters.
While council must approve the contract with EMH&T to begin the bidding process for the painting of the building, members of the Livingston House Society are debating whether the house should retain its current color that more aligns with the city’s identity or revert back to the former color that represents the city’s history.
In March, the society held a special meeting where its 56 members were able to vote for a color. However, only 18 attended, with 10 in favor of white and green and eight in favor of red. Because fewer than a third of members voted, officials set up another vote – this time, by mail to all members. The Reynoldsburg Parks and Recreation Department sent the ballots last month.
Reynoldsburg resident Norm Brusk said that, while he is thrilled the building is finally being painted, he believes the color is a more complicated issue. While the white and green option represents the history of the house and is esthetically more pleasing to many people, Brusk said most people in Reynoldsburg probably only remember it as red.
“Secondly, the red color is on all the publicity,” he said. “It is on the brochures. It is on pictures. It is on our Historical Society when you look at things. Also, the iconic float you see on the Fourth of July Parade.”
Brusk added because Reynoldsburg owns the Livingston House, taxpayers ultimately pay for its color.
“We bare the cost of it, so I think the residents have a right to put their two cents in,” he said.
Gary Knapp, who lives just down the street from the Livingston House on Graham Road, asked council to refrain from proceeding further with plans to paint the home. He said after speaking with his neighbors, he is seeing more support for the color to remain red.
“I live there, and I have talked to several of the neighbors around, and everybody in the neighborhood wants it red,” he said. “It will be interesting to see how the vote comes out. The only other thing I would say, I was going to go to Kroger and buy a tomato and hold it here, and I was going to have you close your eyes, and if I told you after to think about Reynoldsburg, the home of the tomato, what color would you think of?”
The ordinance authorizing the mayor to enter into a contract with EMH&T to seek bids for painting the house will return to the finance committee, which meets May 16. It will then return to council for a final reading, should the committee choose to send it back.