Californians: Ask Your Legislators to Save 220 State Parks

Posted on: June 5th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

Californians, take action now: write to your state legislators and let them know you oppose closing 220 of your state parks.

Written by Anthony Veerkamp

california-state-parksThree days ago, I took the train to Sacramento (that’s right, do what we can to reduce our carbon footprint!) to provide comment on behalf of the National Trust for Historic Preservation to the California State Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to zero out state funding for California State Parks.

I wasn’t there alone. In all, the committee heard 30 hours of testimony from nearly 2,000 Californians over seven days of hearings. The hearing I attended started at midday and lasted well into the evening. After standing around for hours waiting for my chance to speak (literally standing -- there is nowhere to sit in the hallways of the State Capitol!) I started to get hungry. And crabby. I then reminded myself that I, after all, was attending as a paid staff member of the National Trust -- most of the 100-plus parks advocates who made the trek to Sacramento that day did so on their own dime.

People like Tina K. May. Tina was part of a contingent of forty advocates from Santa Cruz who chartered a bus and got up at the crack of dawn to tell their elected leaders why they opposed closing State Parks. Like most of us, she started with the obvious: closing parks is fiscally irresponsible. According the California State Parks Foundation, each dollar invested in state parks generates $2.35 cents in revenue for the state’s general fund. That doesn’t include the much greater economic benefits derived by business owners and local communities that depend on visitors to state parks for their livelihood.

But with just 60 seconds to make her case, Tina quickly shifted gears and asked those assembled: “what is our legacy going to be?” To destroy a system that has taken over 100 years to build, or to keep the parks open when they bring in money to the state budget? Continuing on the theme of legacy, she noted “We survived World War I, the Depression, and World War II without closing parks -- I don't buy that we have to do this now.”

In my own 60 second in the spotlight, I focused on the risks to our heritage that would result from state park closures:
“Of particular concern to the National Trust are the historic places that would be shuttered. Preservationists have learned from bitter experience that an unused building is a building at risk. Without ongoing maintenance, small leaks become major structural failures. Fewer eyes minding closed parks will lead to increased risk of theft, arson, and vandalism.”

This battle is far from won, but I think park advocates and preservationists made some real headway on Tuesday. I even came away with a new respect for the members of the California state legislature, who rank right around Bear Stearns execs and the octuplet mom in popularity these days. Some pundits have said that these public hearings were style over substance. And it’s true that 60 seconds is barely enough time to say “good afternoon” (or in my case “good evening”) and state your name and affiliation, much less make a nuanced case for the importance of parks and heritage.

Yet we were clearly heard. As the committee chair State Senator Noreen Evans noted in her blog that night (what was she doing still up?!) “Most members of the public attended today’s hearing to address what is perhaps the governor’s most provocative natural resources proposal calling for the closure of 221 state parks. This is about 80% of all state parks.” She also apparently heard my own comments: “The public also testified that closing parks would risk the safety of cultural housed artifacts within our historic parks.”

Assemblywoman Evans summarized the seven days of testimony saying: “This budget is about the people of California and the kind of state they want to call home. Public testimony humanized the budget process. It showed the impact of abstract cuts on the lives of Californians. Public comment also gave the public ownership in the budget process ahead. We received constructive input and ideas that will help us move forward with the difficult decisions that lay ahead.

So, what kind of state do we Californians who care about our state’s rich heritage want to call home? It’s not too late to weigh in, but time is short. Californians, take action now: write to your state legislators and let them know you oppose closing 220 of your state parks.

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Anthony Veerkamp is the senior program officer at the National Trust for Historic Preservation Western Office.

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.

Take Action to Help Save Detroit's Tiger Stadium

Posted on: June 5th, 2009 by Sarah Heffern 4 Comments

 

June 3, 2009 protest at Tiger Stadium. (Photo by Marvin Shaouni)

June 3, 2009 protest at Tiger Stadium. (Photo by Marvin Shaouni)

UPDATE, MONDAY, JUNE 8

Detroit's WXYZ news station is reporting that the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy's request for an injunction to prevent further demolition of the ballpark has been denied.

We will be issuing an official statement on this loss later today.

ADDITIONAL UPDATE:

An injunction has been granted and the demolition ceased late Friday afternoon, with a hearing to follow on Monday morning. The link in the update below has more information on this developing situation.

Please read to the end of the post for information on how to contact Detroit's Mayor and City Council to ask them to stop this needless demolition.

UPDATE:

Despite the fact that demolition was scheduled to begin as early as Monday, June 8th, we recently learned that the City of Detroit has moved up its schedule and demolition in fact began the afternoon of June 5th at 3:45 pm Eastern Time.

Please express your outrage at this action by contacting Mayor Dave Bing's office at 313-224-3400.

Thank you for your support on this issue.

***

Yesterday, my colleague Royce from the Midwest Office wrote about the plight of Tiger Stadium -- where bulldozers had appeared suddenly in response a vote by the city of Detroit's economic development arm to follow through with complete demolition of the remaining portion of the stadium.

Today, we're asking you to join other preservationists, baseball enthusiasts, and local activists in taking action to save Tiger Stadium.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Write to the City Council

Express your outrage with demolition of Tiger Stadium. Let them know that redevelopment of this iconic historic place could transform it back into a thriving center of community activity.

Call the Mayor's Office

Mayor Dave Bing's office can be reached at 313-224-3400.  He needs to know that you support protection of Tiger Stadium, and that it is important to the City of Detroit and people across the nation.

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.

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class. Follow her on Twitter at @smheffern.

Preservationists Unite! Comment Against Demolition in LEED ND

Posted on: June 5th, 2009 by Barbara Campagna 2 Comments

 

Historic neighborhoods such as Galena, Illinois represent the types of neighborhoods LEED ND is encouraging.

Historic neighborhoods such as Galena, Illinois represent the types of neighborhoods LEED ND is encouraging.

The final version of LEED ND (Neighborhood Development) is open for its second and final public comment. Comments, which can be made by anyone, not just members, are due by Sunday, June 14th, 2009 at 11:59 PM Pacific Time. My colleague Patrice Frey and I have advised LEED ND staff on many of the changes and in many respects we are very pleased with the way it is looking. But there is one major oversight that I would like everyone to send comments in on: the lack of a prerequisite for demolishing historic buildings. Read my tale below and if you agree I invite you to go to the USGBC website, download LEED ND and send in comments online. If you have any trouble submitting comments, let me know and I’ll be happy to help you.

What is LEED ND?

LEED Neighborhood Development (ND) is in some respects as different from LEED 2009 as it is similar. It has a very different construct (four sections instead of six), was developed by a working group of three organizations – USGBC, Natural Resources Defense Council (representing the Smart Growth community) and Congress for New Urbanism – and focuses on infrastructure and the public realm, with buildings as just one component. For more detail please read two blogs I wrote in November, one on LEED ND specifically and one on both LEED ND and LEED 2009.

LEED ND has three categories:

  1. Smart Locations & Linkages (SLL);
  2. Neighborhood Pattern & Design (NPD) and
  3. Green Infrastructure & Buildings (GIB).

Historic preservation values are particularly addressed in NPD Prerequisite Credit 1 - Walkable Streets and GIB Credits 5 – Existing Building Reuse and 6 – Historic Resource Preservation & Adaptive Reuse.

The No-Demolition Prerequisite

In my November blog I discussed how pleased we were that these new credits, GIB 5 and 6 (4 and 5 in the first iteration), were developed and referenced preservation standards. In order to get either of these credits, there is a prerequisite that no historic building can be demolished. The problem is, someone could still demolish a historic building and just choose NOT to go for these credits. It would be much stronger if there were a prerequisite credit that precludes someone from getting LEED ND at all if they demolish a historic building. This was the major comment I submitted on behalf of the National Trust during the first public comment period. When reviewing the comments with LEED staff  following the comment period, we were told that it did not appear that the No Demolition for Historic Buildings prerequisite had enough votes for this first version of LEED ND and that we should work towards it for the next version in two years.

... 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.

Barbara Campagna

Barbara A. Campagna, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C was formerly the Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust in the Stewardship of Historic Sites office. She is currently a sustainability consultant to the National Trust and can be reached at bcampagna@bcampagna.com.

Out & Proud in 'Big City' Roanoke

Posted on: June 5th, 2009 by Guest Writer 3 Comments

 

roanoke_tpm

By Karen Gray

I have lived in – or on the outskirts of – Roanoke, Virginia for most of my life.

When I was young and our house was over 15 minutes away from the nearest grocery store, a trip to Roanoke was known as “going into town.” I always thought of it as the “big city” back then. Today, I appreciate its mix of small town charm and “big city” opportunity.
The Roanoke Star

The Roanoke Star

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Roanoke is known as the “Star City of the South” (we are the proud home of the largest man-made lit star in the country, which shines above the city from Mill Mountain). 100,000 people big, we have a beautiful downtown neighborhood full of fabulous restaurants and shops, the Farmers Market and Roanoke Wiener Stand, and an impressive collection of museums.

While there is no longer a specific gay neighborhood (the yuppies moved into Old Southwest in the 1980’s), there is a “Gay Kroger” (a local grocery store), as well as a number of restaurants that are known to be accepting of LGBT clientele. We have a very active Metropolitan Community Church, as well as a Pride organization, Roanoke Pride, Inc., that sponsors events and activities throughout the year for the community. Our annual Pride event, Pride in the Park, continues to get bigger and better. In 2008, it pulled in a record attendance of 3,000.

Metropolitan Community Church

Metropolitan Community Church

We also have two lively bars in town, one of which has been open for over 30 years. The other, however, has a much different story – one that you probably heard about on the national news on September 22, 2000. That day, Ronald Gay walked into Backstreet, ordered a beer, sat for a minute, and then stood up and opened fire. His rampage injured six and killed one.

It has been said – both locally and by the massive media contingent that covered the tragedy – that this event blew Roanoke’s LGBT community clear out of the closet. While I personally don’t believe that it changed the way LGBT people lived their daily lives here, I do believe it made the rest of the city and state more aware that we are, in fact, here. The negativity hurled at our local paper for its coverage of the event was proof of that.

As Roanoke continues to grow, I believe more and more LGBT folks will find it to be an open and accepting place where people of all walks of life can be at home.

Karen Gray serves on the committee that is currently planning Roanoke's 20th anniversary Pride festival. She has lived in or around Roanoke for most of her life.

rainbow_crawler

Join the National Trust for Historic Preservation as we celebrate Pride + Preservation throughout the month of June. Want to help us show some pride in place? Upload a This Place Matters photo of a building, site or neighborhood that matters to you and your local LGBT community.

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.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

Tiger Stadium Protesters Seek “More Vision and Less Demolition”

Posted on: June 4th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 3 Comments

 

Written by Royce Yeater

June 3, 2009 protest at Tiger Stadium. (Photo by Marvin Shaouni)

Save Tiger Stadium! (Photo by Marvin Shaouni)

Refrains of “Take me out to the Ball Game” interspersed with chants of “Save Tiger Stadium” rose in the late night air at the corner of Trumbull and Michigan in Detroit last night. About 100 protesters gathered before midnight outside what remains of the famous but long-abandoned historic baseball park. They carried neon-colored handmade posters with the “Save Tiger Stadium” message, along with signs reading “More Vision and Less Demolition” and “This Place Matters.”

The protest was in response to the appearance on the site earlier in the day of demolition equipment poised to do its work. It was apparently ordered into that position by the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) after they determined that the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy had failed to meet a $15 million dollar target for fundraising toward their plan to preserve the field itself and the most historic portion of the Stadium (once known as Navin Field) as a venue for youth baseball surrounded by office space.

For nearly 20 years, Tiger Stadium has been the focus of  local and nationwide efforts to preserve it as an icon of baseball, after rumors of intentions to build a new stadium surfaced. We listed Tiger Stadium on our annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 1991. After the Tigers relocated to Comerica Park in 1999, the city agreed to continue to maintain the stadium until an appropriate adaptive use of the stadium, or a viable new use for the site, could be identified.

The remaining portion of Tiger Stadium. (Photo by Marvin Shaouni)

The remaining portion of Tiger Stadium. (Photo by Marvin Shaouni)

Neither of those things happened, in spite of extensive efforts by preservationists to find an adaptive use, and by the city’s economic development staff to find another productive use of the site. In 2008, with funds for maintenance ever-tightening and the Corktown Neighborhood in which the stadium sits asking for some resolution, a compromise was established in a Memorandum of Agreement between the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (a quasi-governmental economic development agency) and the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy (a non-profit advocacy and development group organized to save and reuse the stadium). The agreement accepted demolition of the less historic parts of the stadium seating and that work ensued in July, 2008, demolishing all but the infield corner of the stadium seating. The MOA documented an agreement to preserve that element as retail, hospitality, office and community space, and preserve the playing field itself and the lower deck seating as a venue for youth baseball, all at a cost estimated to be about $27M.

June 3, 2009 protest at Tiger Stadium. (Photo by Marvin Shaouni)

June 3, 2009 protest at Tiger Stadium. (Photo by Marvin Shaouni)

The Conservancy has made great progress, even in these economic times. They have secured significant dollars in private contributions from foundations and individuals and, with the help of Senator Carl Levin, had been granted $3.8M in federal funding to advance the plan. They have confirmed through the State Historic Preservation Office the eligibility of the remaining stadium elements for as much as $18M in state and federal historic tax credits. While they had indeed failed to meet a specific fundraising target by March 1, they were meeting fundraising goals to cover the cost of continued maintenance and security and they felt they were demonstrating sufficient progress to sustain their efforts.

When the DEGC suddenly moved into position to demolish the remaining and most historic parts of the stadium, the Conservancy was shocked -- and issued a statement saying so, stressing the economic benefits of their plan to a city struggling in the face of the current recession and the melt down of the automotive industry.

June 3, 2009 protest at Tiger Stadium. (Photo by Marvin Shaouni)

More vision, Less demolition. (Photo by Marvin Shaouni)

In contrast, the DEGC and the city have no alternative plan for the site with any real viability, and certainly no developer or use that is at all shovel-ready. So why the sudden rush to spend significant money to tear it all down? Complete demolition at this time will result only in another empty parcel in a city filled with vacant land awaiting new construction.

We believe the city should extend deadlines for the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy and encourage continued progress toward a significant redevelopment of an iconic historic resource that will cost the taxpayers of Detroit little and provide a much needed shot in the arm the cash-strapped city desperately needs in these trying times.

But the city is currently saying no to that logic and demolition could begin next week. The DEGC has indicated only that demolition will begin within the next two weeks. Ironically, demolition is being held up by a film crew shooting a feature length movie in which the stadium will stand in for Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, itself demolished in 1995.

Please check back tomorrow (Friday, June 5, 2009) to learn how to make your voice heard in the fight to save Tiger Stadium.

Learn More:

Royce A. Yeater, AIA, is the director of the Midwest office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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.