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Mayor misses key points of historic preservation

Thank you, Mayor (Rod) Woodbury for sharing your perspective (Boulder City Review, Aug. 3) of what historic preservation means to you. It’s encouraging that you agree with what many in our community already understand and believe in: “Preserving the past. It’s vital in a city like ours.”

Unfortunately, your “five p’s of preservation lesson” of historic preservation dos and don’ts illustrate a lack of understanding of our community’s values about its historic resources and what it takes to preserve and promote them.

Priorities: The city’s preservation priorities were established in 1983 when the Boulder City Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Since then, important and contributing buildings continue to be demolished or substantially altered, which compromises the integrity of the district.

Boulder City’s Municipal Code “Historic Preservation” (2000) must be updated so that with community input and support, the city can assume a greater responsibility for prioritizing protection of our historic district.

Procedures: All across the country and municipalities have successfully established procedures for prioritizing and protecting historic resources and districts to the benefit of historic property owners and developers. The city’s Historic Preservation Committee has the desire and resources to establish such procedures, most of which are based on the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, established in the 1970s.

Plans: All of the following plans offer a common vision and priority for preserving, maintaining and exploiting Boulder City’s historic legacy: Boulder City Business Impact Analysis: Interstate 11 (2015); Envision 2020 (2012); Master Plan (2003; updated 2009); Redevelopment Plan (2009); and Strategic Plan (2000).

Purpose: An important purpose of preservation is to encourage the integration of the past with the present and the future. Preservation does not halt growth or change. By utilizing the above mentioned priorities, procedures and existing plans, the city is poised to support and develop a vibrant local economy by embracing preservation as a tool for economic revitalization.

In addition, the city should encourage developers of profit opportunities with the use of local, stat, and federal incentives to develop historic properties. Preservation of our core downtown should be the priority to spur revitalization and economic development, not the Hoover Dam Gateway project.

Public vs. private: As you stated, preservation of the Boulder Dam Hotel is a good example of how governments and the private sector can work together to protect and promote important historic resources. However, one historic hotel does not make a historic district. I challenge the city to: fully embrace preservation of all historic resources as a primary community value; willingly stand up for preservation’s value in the face of easy solutions (i.e. Hoover Dam Gateway project); and, continue developing partnerships with preservationists by offering incentives that support private investments for preserving historic resources.

Blair Davenport works for the National Park Service as a cultural resources manager and is a member of the Boulder City Historic Preservation Committee.

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