Sunday, November 19, 2017

News from Charleston, S.C. about historic preservation, “huge shift in our mindset”. A ‘huge shift’ about to occur in our City of Lake Worth as well.

A reminder, December 5th at the Lake Worth City Commission is second reading of “Section 23.5-4 Historic Preservation”. To read the news segment about first reading on Nov. 7th, which includes a video by NBC5/WPTV reporter Andrew Lofholm, click on this link.

To read the follow-up blog post about Moses (yes, that Moses), the Secretary of Interior Standards, and also about “opting out” of historic districts here in the City of Lake Worth click on this link for the post titled, “Historic preservation, historic districts, and an oft-told meme ‘opt out’ rears up again”.*

So. What happened in Charleston, South Carolina? Very big news; continue reading to find out:

The recent and very surprising news from Charleston is below, news that will certainly embolden many of you who have been complaining for many years about historic preservation here in our City of Lake Worth, the bureaucratic red tape, been involved in all the political firestorms, and demanding a ‘huge shift in OUR mindset’ as well.

Coincidentally, on the November 7th agenda
at the Lake Worth City Commission under
“New Business”:

11A. Ordinance No. 2017-27 - First Reading - amending Chapter 23 “Land Development Regulations”, Article 5 “Supplemental Regulations”, Section 23.5-4 “Historic Preservation” and set the second reading and public hearing for December 5, 2017.

How did we get here? A news segment by reporter Alanna Quillen at NBC5/WPTV datelined Sept. 29th sums it all up quite nicely; here are two excerpts:

LAKE WORTH, Fla. — We still have about five weeks left in hurricane season, five weeks left of fear for some homeowners that a storm may significantly damage or destroy their most important investment.

and. . .

     [Anthony] Marotta, who serves as president of the Parrot Cove Neighborhood Association, lives in a 105-year-old home but because the home has been designated “historic”, he has faced some roadblocks in installing storm shutters.
     “Things that should be very simple such as hardening ones homes against hurricanes, we’re being hamstrung by decisions people made 100 years ago,” he said.

Lake Worth Commissioner Omari Hardy
is quoted as well:

     “If we have a solution, that helps make people’s lives better in Lake Worth, we should be allowed to do that,” he [Hardy] said. “Don’t handcuff us and tie our hands when we’re trying to help the people who elected us.”

Now for the extraordinary news
from another city. . .

The news below comes from The Post and Courier, a 2015 Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper in Charleston, S.C. Here are two excerpts from this article datelined Nov. 3rd by reporter Robert Behre:

In a move that one Charleston preservation leader called “a sea change,” the city will be more receptive than ever to property owners’ requests to elevate their homes or other buildings, even along its most historic streets.
     The city held a day-long workshop Friday to discuss design solutions that would allow historic buildings to be elevated while minimizing disruption to the city's ambiance, one that has given the city a national reputation and fueled its multimillion-dollar tourist economy.
     The workshop came several weeks after Tropical Storm Irma flooded dozens of historic homes downtown, many for the third time in as many years.

and. . .

     The Historic Charleston Foundation sent out an alert to its supporters highlighting the dilemma now facing parts of downtown.
     “Traditionally, raising historic buildings is not a good preservation practice. It disrupts their architectural proportions, changes the character of the streetscape, and can lead to structural issues,” it said. “Sometimes, however, exceptions have to be made. Charleston is currently faced with two choices, neither of which is particularly appealing: raise many of our historic structures or watch them be destroyed by repeat flooding. We’re losing something either way.” [emphasis added]

Our City of Lake Worth was mostly spared the full wrath of Hurricane Irma but our luck is not going to last forever. Just like Charleston we face similar challenges with many of our historic structures — roofs, windows, and doors — and when we get a direct hit from a hurricane, and we will, “We’re losing something either way.”

And probably the saddest commentary of all about our City’s historic preservation program, an exchange at a City Commission meeting last August between Mayor Pam Triolo and City Manager Michael Bornstein:

Mayor Triolo asked, “You live in College Park. You don’t live in a historic district do you?”

Bornstein responded, “I intentionally did it
that way.”

*If this issue of historic preservation and the future of this program in our City of Lake Worth is important to you then please make plans to show up at the Commission meeting on December 5th and make your voice heard at public comment.
     If for some reason you cannot attend remember you can also watch from home Live Streaming: go to the City’s website, and scroll down for the “Live Broadcast Channel”.