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From the Front Lines of Property Rights Battles

Posted on: October 5th, 2007 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Today in sunny Saint Paul, the National Trust Board of Advisors and a large group of fellow preservationists gathered to talk about "Property Rights Battles: Views from the Front Lines."

For those not familiar with the structure of the National Trust, the Board of Advisors is not the National Trust for Historic Preservation's governing board—that's the Board of Trustees. Instead, the Board of Advisors is a group of more than 100 volunteers who act as eyes and ears in places where the National Trust has no permanent staff presence and who complement and augment the knowledge, skills, and contacts of staff, offering always needed and frequently heeded counsel on emerging issues and trends.

Given their record of dynamism, it might seem odd that the advisors chose the theme of property rights for their sponsored session for the third year running. What's up with that? Hasn't this drum been beaten long enough? Judging from the sellout crowd, the answer is a resounding "no."

Of course, if, like me, you hail from the West, these battles are hard to ignore. A bit of background: In 2004, Oregon voters approved Measure 37, which essentially gutted Oregon's groundbreaking land-use protections that have been in place since 1973. Close on the heels of the Oregon fiasco, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Kelo v. New London in 2005.

At today's session, Dwight Merriam of Connecticut was able to add some local color to the Kelo story, including the stranger-than-fiction Christmas card that Mrs. Kelo sent out (cue scary movie music). As Mr. Merriam outlined, this case quickly became a cause celebre among private property rights advocates, who saw in Kelo the long arm of the law stretching way too close for comfort. They also saw an opportunity to push a much broader property-rights agenda.

... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

It Comes Down to Dollars, Pesos, Euros, and Yen

Posted on: October 3rd, 2007 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

National Trust staff member David Field models the shell lei from Guam.After spending much of the day yesterday in conference sessions focusing on the need to better market historic preservation to a broader audience, it seemed appropriate that I should encounter pure marketing genius here at the conference today.

Let me explain. This morning I was torn between two great-sounding educational sessions--a session on preservation in Asian and Pacific Islander communities or one on preservation commissions and green building issues. I was leaning toward the green issues session, if only because I thought that the Q&A portion would provide me a platform to spout my pro-solar and wind power views. (True to my Dutch heritage, I've never met a windmill I didn't like.) I
was actually waiting in line to gather handouts for the green session when I spotted a very white guy outside the API meeting room wearing decidedly un-white guy accessories. Curiosity got the better of me, and I ventured down the hall to check things out. It turned out that folks from Guam were greeting all the attendees at their session with seashell leis—sold!

The lei, of course, is more than a gift, it's a symbol, one that our colleagues from Guam asked that we wear for the whole conference; if anyone asks what's up, the answer is, "I've stepped outside of the comfort zone of traditional historic preservation." (Actually, it's really not so far outside my own comfort zone--I just need to guard against covetous attendees at tonight's GLBT reception--more on that tomorrow.)

... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Hello From the Twin Cities

Posted on: October 1st, 2007 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

The National Trust for Historic Preservation lands in the Twin CitiesGood afternoon from St. Paul! The wireless network is not yet operational at the River Centre, so I'm writing this from a Dunn Bros coffee shop located in a historic building a few blocks away. Dunn Bros is a really good local chain of coffee shops that does a great job of locating its franchises in historic buildings (in downtown Minneapolis they have locations within blocks of either side of the landmark Stone Arch Bridge on the Mississippi River; if you're down there make sure to check out the "Freight House" location, next to the Milwaukee Road Depot).

Dunn Bros is also, apparently, open to some innovative partnerships--this location is one large room, half of which is occupied by the coffee shop, while the other half is an optometry shop. Weird pairing, but both businesses have been here for several years, so seems like it's working.

The first thing I noticed when I arrived in downtown St. Paul this morning are all the banners hanging from street lamps welcoming the National Trust to St. Paul. They look great, and help to brighten up what is so far a gloomy, gray day.

Check out what the local media is saying about the conference. The Minneapolis Star Tribune article appeared in Sunday's paper and the Saint Paul Pioneer Press ran this story this morning (login required).

And keep an eye on this space: We're going to be reporting from the National Preservation Conference every day this week.

-- Virgil McDill

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Kansas Mall To Replace Last House on the Block

Posted on: October 1st, 2007 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Strasser HouseIn Manhattan, Kan., the fight to save the last house in a neighborhood lost to a shopping center soon may lose its footing.

Built in 1874, the limestone Phillipena J. Strasser House is the last in a residential area that consisted of late 19th- to mid-20th-century limestone abodes.

Last year, Omaha-based developer Dial Realty purchased the property, adjacent to Manhattan's original downtown area, and began construction on a shopping center and senior living community. Dial has leveled everything except for the Strasser House. Recently, Dial announced plans to move the house down the block.

"The Strasser House is in poor repair," says Rick Kiolbasa, partner at Dial Realty, who notes that fire and termite damage have led to the house's deteriorated condition. Kiolbasa says Dial never planned to demolish the Strasser House. "We'd always wanted to save the house in some form, but we never knew exactly what the shopping center would look like and where it could fit in." Kiolbasa adds that Dial plans on rehabilitating the house, possibly for use as office space.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

High-Voltage Debate

Posted on: September 28th, 2007 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Virginia power linesThe Northeast's longest free-flowing river, the Upper Delaware River, meanders from Hancock, N.Y., to Matamoras, Pa. Bald eagles make this a popular bird-watching spot. Abundant fish lure fly fishermen, and Class II and III rapids attract kayakers. Congress, recognizing the natural beauty of this area, set aside the Upper Delaware Wild and Scenic River for protection under the National Parks System in 1978. The area, 90 minutes from New York City, "is pristine and gorgeous," says Michael Schmidt, a kayaker and regular park visitor. "It is one of the most tranquil parts of the country I have ever been to."

But the area is just one of the many historic and scenic places that may soon have a new neighbor: a 500-kilovolt transmission line some 160 feet overhead. New York Regional Interconnect, Inc. has proposed a 190-mile line from central New York to the lower Hudson Valley to alleviate energy congestion in the Northeast. The preferred route in some sections follows a gas pipeline—a right of way that predates the park—and passes through four miles of ridge top along the river and a mile-long section of the canal.

Not surprisingly, local and national organizations have been actively opposing the line. "If someone was fly fishing on the river or recreating on the park site, they will look up and shadows will be cast down on the river and in the valley by these 160-foot towers," says Bryan Faehner, legislative representative at the National Parks Conservation Association.

Similar battles are taking place in eight eastern states. ... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.