Today, as one of the country's first historic districts, we are faced with a direct threat.

Columbia Gas wants to put gas meters on the front facade of properties, some of which date back to 1840.

This is a big deal. This desecration of primary facades in one of the pre-eminent historic districts in the country is an insult to individual property owners and your personal investment.

It is an insult to all of us who have battled so very hard time and again to fend off anything that poses an adverse effect to the essence of what we are charged with protecting.

When it comes to protecting a building's ability to tell its story with historical accuracy - and that is, at the end of the day, what the neighborhood commission process does - there is nothing more sacred than building facades.

The angles easily visible from the public throughway are where the accuracy of the story has to be upheld.

For us to remain a relevant preservation leader, it is imperative that the historic integrity of those surfaces be vigilantly protected.

The drip, drip, drip of poor preservation of those facades over time takes away what's so very German Village about German Village.

The threats can be electric and cable boxes, the city choosing concrete over sandstone curbs and brick sidewalks and, yes -- gas meters.

Any change to the primary facade for any property owner reading this has to go before the German Village Commission.

One would think a public utility would demonstrate some sensitivity to the primacy of these facades.

In the case of Columbia Gas, no such sensitivity has been demonstrated.

And the public utility is not subject to the same review through the commission that you are.

Columbia Gas answers only to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

Should Columbia Gas prevail, the truth of our past, as conveyed by our primary facades, will be utterly corrupted for the foreseeable future.

Are we to allow placement of these obtrusive meters at the base of every building in the district?

As we confront Columbia Gas, are we accommodating the future of energy technology?

Are we being asked to adapt to a new and improved technology?

The truth is this: we are being asked to allow a depleting energy source and a dated and cumbersome delivery system to deface our district.

We must patiently and intelligently navigate that ever-present tension between preserving the past and creating the future.

But we must not allow any adverse effect on the historic fabric of this district. That is our job as "caretakers of a legacy."

The next move is yours, German Village property owners.

We've come to the part of this fight where public outcry is more powerful than attorneys.

Please undertake the following:

* If you pay an account for gas service in the historic footprint, join our formal complaint. There is no cost to you to do so.

* No matter where you live or work, you can support our PUCO complaint with a letter.

* Pick up a yard sign. Yard signs are available on a first-come, first-served basis in the German Village Society offices, 588 S. 3rd St.

* Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and NextDoor and share so more people see our plea and join our fight.

* If a Columbia Gas representative knocks on your door tell them you don't want your gas meter on the exterior; you will not sign off on moving the meter outdoors.

Tell them you are represented by the German Village Society, and share our contact information (614-221-8888).

* Support us financially by becoming a society member.

There's more about each of these on our website, germanvillage.com.

German Village Society Historic Preservation Advocate Nancy Kotting submitted the Village Notebook column.