By Susan Redden
Globe Staff Writer
CARTHAGE, Mo. - Should the Boots Motel get the protection of a historic designation from the city?
That's the question City Council member Diane Sharits wants her colleagues to consider when the council meets at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
"Because of the building's historic importance to the city, and its architecture and ambiance, I think it's something the council should discuss," Sharits said.
A fixture on Route 66, the historic motel recently was sold by Ron Ferguson, who earlier had shifted the operation to weekly and monthly rentals from nightly lodging.
New owner Vince Scott has not publicly outlined a plan for the property. Sharits said her concerns for the future of the motel have been heightened recently because businesses to the north of the site have been shut down.
She cited persistent rumors that the motel and perhaps businesses on the adjacent property will be razed for a commercial development on the corner of Central and Garrison avenues.
Tom Short, city administrator, said he has head the same rumors.
The city has not received a demolition request on either property.
Sharits said the council should at least consider a provision in the city code that allows the panel to designate a property as a historic landmark without the landowner asking. With such a designation in place, exterior work on the property would have to be approved by the city.
"There are others on the council besides me who are interested in preserving history," Sharits said.
Short agreed that the code permits the council designation, but he said the practice always has been to make the change only with the approval of the owner.
"On our historic districts, we gave landowners the authority to opt out before it was designated; 77 did," he said.
Short said Tuesday's meeting will allow the council "to discuss whether they want to pursue it, and then talk about the ramifications."
At a Nov. 12 meeting, council members heard from representatives of two groups interested in Route 66 preservation. Both urged the council to use the city's historic-preservation ordinance to protect the motel, whose guests have included actor Clark Gable. They also cited its importance as a stop along the highway, its unique architecture and neon lighting.
By Susan Redden