I am trying to put together a pitch for as many of the building and home owners as I can convince to apply for historic place status. I don’t know if everyone is going to be willing, but like my grandfather says, if you throw a rock at a greenhouse, you’re bound to break some glass. Not everyone is going to say no. Right? It would be so good for this town. We would be able to get so much help with funding for repairs, maintenance, and more tourism resources.
Before I can bring this up at a town hall meeting, though, I have to be able to answer people’s questions about what and why I want to do this. I can’t just say, “It’s for the good of the town!” even though it is. Aside from being a cliché, it doesn’t really say anything about the benefits. I’ll have to have an answer when they come back with, “But why?”
I called the State Historic Preservation Office to find out what I had to do. It is going to be a long process, true. First we have to fill out preliminary paperwork, and then we will get a determination if we meet the criteria—although the criteria is basically a) is it old b) does it still reasonably look like it did c) is it significant in some way? Since there is a whole Main Street preservation arm here in Illinois, I assume we have the significant part down. And the buildings here were mostly built in the 1950s, so they’re old enough. Not much has been done—not for lack of need, honestly—as far as renovations go, so we should be good there too.
If we’re up for consideration, they have a council meeting to discuss our applications. If we make the cut here, then everything gets forwarded to the National Park service in Washington, DC for the final review. If it happens, then we get added to the registry. Then we can get access to grants for renovations, we get access to information on how to renovate and architectural plans, and there are tax incentives depending on what type of building it is.
Plus, I don’t think people know that they still maintain control of their own building. In other words, the government doesn’t get involved if Bob wants to sell the hardware store or if he wants to remodel it in some way. Nobody has to restore their property to exactly what it looked like when the building was new, either. On the other hand, if they do decide to renovate, they can get federal money. We can get reimbursed for things like architectural plans, too. I know some people have been nervous because their buildings are not exactly up to handicapped accessible codes, and we can get special compensation to get them up to code there too.
I really can’t see a downside here.
I hope that I sound confident and informed when I go before the town in a couple of weeks. Wish me luck!