Each of my visits to Albert Lea since leaving 28 years ago has been marked by the closed or moved businesses, and an ever more apparent abandonment or neglect of Albert Lea's historic downtown district. The photo's of historic brickwork and massive wooden beams of the Western Grocery building speak of an opportunity to merge the city's past with it's future. It's entirely possible that this 109 year old building's "crooked beams" could still outlive another County Board's decision to build the appropriately criticized 1954 addition, which now appears to be on the destruction list as well, after a short 48 year life. No one seems inclined to destroy the original courthouse building, which was expensive; perhaps because it represents what ties us to the past even though it no longer represents contemporary design in office and government space. The original courthouse has character; you feel it when you walk in the door, and you carry a bit of that character with you when you leave. The Western Grocery Building would certainly be a target of redevelopment in many communities throughout the United States. This could be a building that shows what government can do to preserve character, not just what it can do at low cost. Fee based architectural and engineering studies and unqualified opinions should not be the driving force in the preservation and development of a city's heart; that approach only leads to more non-descript buildings. The current Board has an obligation to the history and the future when considering the destruction of touchstones of the city's past. Mothballing the Western Grocery building might be a good interim step. If the past 28 years is any indication, there will be more vacant space to work with soon.