Thursday, June 23, 2011

What the heck is Preservation going to do for me?

After attending a community hearing last night for the proposed Magnolia Wade Park Landmark Historic District, it became painfully clear to me that I need to write-- something.

Who reads it?
I don't know, nor am I concerned with marketing to an audience.

But, I am concerned about clearly writing to an audience to take off a veil of mysticism that seems to cover City government and Preservation.

First off, let me clear some things up (since clarity is what I am striving for).
Unless you are spending sixty plus hours a week pondering the complexity of local government, you probably won't even come close to getting all the information or seeing every reason behind the scenes. Even if you are spending your entire life serving a community, you may not even really know, or have access to all the pieces.

So, let us make it simple-- stop!

Stop trying to rationalize something that is out of rationality.

We live in a complex system that attempts to balance good and evil. Noone comes out a winner. We simply exist. Yet, some of us try to live our life through truth in search of justice.

Back to the Landmark District and Preservation.

What the heck is Preservation going to do for me?
Besides fine me and "take" away my right to do with my property as I please.

News flash, property is nothing but a deed contract with constructed restrictions and some feign of ownership.

Let's grow up a little and stop kicking out feet like children mad that their mom said they could only have one ice cream cone instead of the five they really wanted.

What the heck is Preservation going to do for you?

Well, statisically you can pull a whole lot of positive numbers from increase of local job creations to sustainability of neighborhoods and increase of private investment. You can also add into that monetary mix a raised sense of happiness and enjoyment of one's surroundings. Not to mention, the increase of historical awareness and knowledge.

What the heck would a Local Landmark District in Magnolia Wade Park do for its residents?

Since it is already an established National Register Historic District, there are already financial incentives for commerical owners. Noncommercial owners get nothing from the national designation except the glory.

Local designation would give residents a voice in maintaining their neighborhood's sense of place (how it looks and feels and all the good nostalgia feelings that goes along with it). Right now, there is no local designation, which means the noncommerical owners are pretty voiceless in terms of resisting demolitions, parking lots and out of scale new construction (all of which negatively impacts home values and likelihood of selling your property).

Slapping out of scale buidlings in historic areas, well intended or not, negatively impacts the ability of historic home stock from selling.

There is an arguement from nonprofit organizations, like churches, that state they want to be exempt from participating in historic designation. They already avoid paying tax and still recieve benefits from being part of a City. Some churches downsize, leaving empty buidlings, and thusly negatively impact an area's ability to be a viable home market. And then there are vacant schools... a whole other can of worms.

The point to this madness, planners exisit for a reason, and dedicate their life to trying to sort of the good bad and ugly for the overall betterment of a community.

Sometimes the big money project is going to roll through, because it will bring revenue. It may level an entire neighborhood to accomplish its goal. If its good design it may last longer than something with poor design and tons of planning flaws.

Ulitmately, unless this is your profession and passion... you don't have to ponder all the angles, and  you don't even have to feign political interest. If you are electing the right people to lead... righteousness will surface (even if only in small increments, its still there).

Clearly, those who want to argue about their right to personal property may actually understand the restrictions of a deed. Those who want rights, and preach about their liberty, have to understand there is obligation and sacrifice to having rights. Be it serving via military, volunteering, donating, or just being a sane human being... one has to give something in order to receive.

Maybe its the whitewashing of the American psyche that does not allow for radical thought involving compromise and deep thought? Maybe I'm just ranting?

The reality of the situation is that Preservation can give a whole heck of a lot, if folks take the time to understand the importance and urgency of the cause.

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