It’s been a long time since many of our Texas CLGs became certified; however, the application requirements have not changed much since the state adopted the program in 1986. One of the items that we still require from both cities and counties is a preservation plan.
Ideally, a preservation plan is incorporated into the city or county’s comprehensive plan or adopted by the local government as a standalone document to compliment the comprehensive plan. Preservation plans include short-term and long-term goals for the community’s preservation activities and action items or steps to achieve those goals.
The month of May is Preservation Month, and this year the CLG Program is going to highlight the benefits of adopting a preservation plan through case studies of CLGs who have recently completed plans of various scopes and sizes. We hope this series will inspire you to dust off your current preservation plan, think about updating a dated plan, or work towards completing a plan for the first time.
Before we dive into the case studies from around Texas, we wanted to provide some background information about preservation plans this week.
The National Alliance for Preservation Commissions describes Preservation Plans as a “proactive way to provide protection of a community’s historic resources and character.”
Preservation Plans may include the following sections:
- Current state of preservation in the community
- Mission and/or vision statement of the preservation program or preservation commission
- Goals or objectives to advance preservation in the community
- Action items describing the ways in which the community will achieve the goals outlined
- Timeline with target dates assigned to each action item
- Resources assigned to each action item—who will be responsible for making sure it gets done?
Outside consultants can be hired to develop a Preservation Plan and CLG Grants are available to help cover the cost of this eligible project; however, plans developed by city or county staff are also acceptable. In this series, we will feature examples of both consultant-led and staff-led plans.
Based on the FY17 CLG Annual Report, we know that about 80% of CITY CLGs are operating under a Preservation Plan or a Comprehensive Plan that incorporates preservation goals. We know this number goes down with COUNTY CLGs as only half (50%) reported working from a Preservation Plan. It’s our goal to have 100% of CLGs operating from a Preservation Plan because being proactive, setting goals, and anticipating challenges will only help strengthen local preservation efforts and lead to better protection of historic recourses.
A Preservation Plan for Your Community
Preservation Plans come in many forms, the key is to find the one that works best for your community. Ideally, the community’s Comprehensive Plan addresses preservation and successfully weaves preservation goals into almost every chapter of the Plan. This emphasizes the reality that preservation can be a tool to address many planning issues!
The Comprehensive Plan can also outline goals for the local preservation program within a chapter of the plan. While this is also an acceptable practice, it can isolate preservation goals and make it harder for the community to understand how preservation fits with the community’s overall goals and plans.
A community may also develop a standalone Preservation Plan. In this scenario, preservation goals are typically addressed in isolation; however, this can help the community to focus on the preservation needs of the city or county. For the plan to be effective, it should be adopted by City Council or the County Commissioners Court. Preservation Plans are the perfect complement to Comprehensive Plans since they detail exact goals and action items for the preservation program.
Another, budget- and time-friendly option, is to create Annual Preservation Goals. The Preservation Program works with the Preservation Commission and Planning Staff to develop annual goals which are later presented to elected officials. This option allows stakeholders to dictate the direction of the program and set realistic and attainable goals for the Preservation Commission and Historic Preservation Officer. Keep in mind that Annual Preservation Goals usually only address short-term goals, don’t address long-term preservation planning issues or integrate these goals with other city initiatives, and may not include an extensive public engagement and outreach component like a Comprehensive Plan or Preservation Plan.
City of San Marcos – Historic Preservation Commission Visioning Workshop 2017 by Alison Brake, Historic Preservation Officer
At the end of the 2016, the City of San Marcos’ Historic Preservation Commission (the Commission or HPC) began to discuss the need to create a work program for the Commission along with setting goals and objectives in response to development pressures in areas close to existing historic districts. It had been ten years since a previous Commission had drafted a policy statement or set goals and objectives. The Commission expressed to draft a work plan in order to advance preservation efforts in the City and directed staff to arrange a workshop.
On March 7, 2017, the HPC came together to hold a Visioning Workshop. The half-day workshop was facilitated by the City of San Marcos’ Planning and Development Services Department with assistance from the Texas Historical Commission’s Certified Local Government (CLG) Program; the City has been a partner in the CLG Program since 1990. The workshop began with a joint presentation from City Staff and CLG Staff which provided the background information needed to prepare the Commission for the rest of the workshop.
Following the presentation, the Commission drafted a new Vision Statement: “Using the power of history to transform lives, create a sense of place, and protect and promote the unique identity of San Marcos.” Much of the previous policy statement was relevant, however, the Commission felt it necessary to give new life to it. The Commission believes this vision will ensure that the City’s unique character will continue to be what draws people to choose this community to live, work, and play.
To assist in the development of goals and objectives of the Commission, staff engaged them in a Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats Analysis, also known as a S.W.O.T. Analysis. This gave the Commission a chance to dive deeper into ways the Commission can grow and strengthen. Out of the S.W.O.T. Analysis, three goals, along with their objectives, were drafted:
- Identify and Prioritize Historic Resources;
- Expand Protection of Historic Resources; and
- Promote Historic Preservation through Outreach and Education.
The information gathered at the Visioning Workshop was included in a Work Plan for the Commission. It was formally adopted by the Commission at their April 2017 Regular Meeting and then presented to the City Council in the summer of 2017.
The Visioning Workshop led the Commission to identify a deficiency in the local preservation program which was the historic resources surveys were out of date and needed to be updated. Having an updated, comprehensive survey forms the basis of future planning and preservation in the City and being accessible to the public increases San Marcos’ cultural identity. Using the Work Plan, Staff applied for and received a grant from the CLG Program to update the historic resources survey. Staff plans on having the resources survey completed by September 2019.
Having a work plan, complete with attainable goals, lends credibility to the Commission. The goals and objectives outlined will make managing the City’s historic resources easier for City staff as well as appointed and elected officials. The Visioning Workshop gave the Commission the confidence to present the Work Plan to elected officials along with everyday citizens, leading to stronger public outreach, community building efforts as well as helping to support political commitments. It is staff’s goal to hold the Visioning Workshop on an annual basis as the goals and objectives will change as they are completed.
Alison Brake, CNU-A, is the Historic Preservation Officer and a Planner with the City of San Marcos Planning and Development Services Department. She has a Bachelor of Science in Resource and Environmental Studies and a Masters of Applied Geography in Resource and Environmental Studies from Texas State University. She has been with the department for 7 years and is the staff liaison for the Historic Preservation Commission.
City of Arlington Preservation Plan: Past Visions, Future Realities by Sarah Stubblefield, Historic Preservation Officer
The City of Arlington has been a Certified Local Government since 1992. The Landmark Preservation Commission was elevated from a committee to a council-appointed commission in 2000. The City of Arlington’s Preservation Plan, adopted in 2010, was an effort that really began in 2003 by citizens who were persistent in the depth of Arlington’s history and committed to preserving the historic landmarks in our City. The City’s Historic Resources Survey was updated in 2007 with GIS shapefiles, and pictures to accompany each of the nearly 700 resources included. Uniquely, an analysis of the City’s Postwar Subdivisions is included in the updated survey, as Arlington’s population exploded from 1950-1975 and the bulk of our architecture is from this period.
Building on the momentum of the Historic Resources Survey, the Arlington Landmark Preservation Commission received a THC grant to complete the Preservation Plan in 2008. The goals of the plan are primarily to educate the commissioners, staff, and our citizens about the value and best practices of preserving historic structures. One of the most successful products of the Preservation Plan is the Local Marker Program. With the Preservation Plan and a grant from the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation, the Local Marker Program is robust and includes 30 local landmarks throughout the City.
In Arlington, we often hear “there is no history in Arlington”, and the Landmark Preservation Commission is the first to tell you that’s just not true. They are also the first to tell you that Arlington has lost a lot of wonderful resources since Arlington was primarily developed around the automobile, and the concept of the “bedroom community”. And although historic resources were lost to this development, we believe that it, too, that will be a history in need of preservation someday. Each year, as the Landmark Preservation Commission reflects on the previous year, and begins to plan for the next, the primary question to answer is “What is worth preserving, and what will be worth preserving 10, 15, 20 years down the road?”
Luckily, the Arlington Preservation Plan was created to help answer those questions. The Landmark Preservation Commission uses the Preservation Plan and the Historic Resources Survey each year to develop a Work Plan that reflects the goals of the Preservation Plan, while considering the issues of the day and the changes happening around the City. Recently, the Commission has started a monthly Social Media Story, in which the Office of Communication prepares and shares a historical story from Arlington’s rich history, reaching nearly 50,000 followers on various social media platforms. Through the Commissions educational efforts, online, in print, and in conversation, their goal is to meld the historic preservation goals into the city’s vision for the future and continue to inform policies and projects throughout the next decade, and beyond.
City of Tyler – Historic Preservation Strategic Plan and Community Outreach by Amber Rojas, Historic Preservation Officer
The City of Tyler recently went through the process of facilitating and adopting a Historic Preservation Strategic plan. The process took a little less than a year with the final adoption on July 26, 2017.
From the beginning, staff understood the importance of bringing all organizations together to have a unified plan. It was very clear that there was a passion and driving force behind historic preservation within our community, but the City and partner organizations were working separately to achieve the same goal. It was time to bring everyone to the table and staff knew it would be best to have an outside firm facilitate the conversation and create the Plan. To help with the cost, Tyler applied for and received a Certified Local Government grant through the Texas Historical Commission.
Engaging the public was vital to the success of the Plan. We truly wanted this to be a community plan and needed to understand the community’s position on the historic preservation program. Stakeholder groups from all over the community were established and we held meetings over a period of three days. We wanted to understand how historic preservation played a part or could play a part in all areas of the City. A Steering Committee was formed from the original stakeholder group and played a leadership role throughout the development of the Plan.
During the public outreach segment, we held two community workshops that allowed the public to engage in the process. The purpose of the community meetings was to introduce the preservation planning process and to discuss preservation issues and opportunities in an informal open house setting. There were interactive stations setup around the room to allow the public to help identify priority areas for preservation and reinvestment. One workshop was held at our local historical museum and the other was at a popular downtown coffee shop. This allowed us to gather input from a diverse group and not just the “regulars”. An online survey was also put out for the public to provide input. We knew that engaging a diverse group of people was critical to the Plan’s success.
The Plan includes an Executive Summary, State of City Report, Goals and Initiatives, an Implementation Matrix, Resources and Public Engagement Results.
The Goals and Initiatives section is organized around four key elements of an effective community historic preservation program.
- Survey, Documentation and Registration
- Continue survey efforts in areas of the City that have not been documented before
- Make survey data more readily accessible to the public
- Program Administration and Management
- Update codes
- Adopt new preservation tools to promote the protection and management of Tyler historic resources
- Enhance the operations of the Historical Preservation Board
- Community Development
- Facilitate historic building investments and adaptive reuse
- Implement historic preservation-based community development and planning efforts that promote livability, economic and environmental sustainability
- Education and Advocacy
- Enhance public understanding of historic preservation through education and advocacy initiatives
The Historical Preservation Board as well as other organizations have realigned their yearly Goals and Objectives to match the Plan’s Implementation Matrix.
In one short year, we have already implemented many of the goals including the development of a National Register district, increased the number of properties locally designated, targeted properties listed on the National Register for designation at the local level, hosted a local landmark owner appreciation celebration, developed an annual report to measure progress, created a promotional video for local historic districts, and increased our social media presence.
When we started the process, I hoped it would spur more interest in the program and open the minds of those who wrote off the value of Historic Preservation. Overall, it was not the creation of the Plan that spurred the most interest, it was the implementation of the Plan! All parties now understand each other’s role and are working in unison to strengthen the City’s preservation program and honor Tyler’s heritage.
City of Tyler's Website: Click Here!
City of Tyler's Preservation Plan: Click Here!
Amber Rojas serves as the Historic Preservation Officer and the Main Street Director for the City of Tyler. Since starting with the City in 2011, she has enhanced the Historic Preservation Program and creditability with the adoption of their Historic Preservation Strategic Plan, receiving the Preserve America Community designation and being awarded the Anice B. Read Award of Excellence in Community Heritage Development. Under her leadership, she has overseen two historical resource surveys and the near doubling of historic designations.
City of Plano – Preservation Plano 150, a Heritage Preservation Plan Update Project by Bhavesh Mittal
Plano’s City Council adopted a new comprehensive plan, Plano Tomorrow, whose Heritage Preservation policy states ‘Plano will embrace its unique historical character and authenticity by identifying and preserving historic and cultural resources that promote the understanding of the city’s history and enrich the city’s sense of place’. Within this policy, there is an implementation action that calls for updating the city’s Heritage Preservation Plan (HPP) every five years to serve as the guiding document for the city’s heritage preservation program and related activities. The HPP functions in conjunction with the Comprehensive Plan, the Zoning Ordinance, the Building Code and the Preservation Ordinance. The city’s first HPP was adopted in 1981 with subsequent updates in 1986, 1992, 2002 and 2011.
Preservation Plano 150, a 2018 HPP update project is intended to guide preservation efforts and provide for their integration into the broad range of plans, shared goals, programs, actions, and activities that shape the community over the next five years. The project shall recognize Plano’s transition from a growing to a maturing community with a focus on embracing Plano’s historical character, neighborhood stabilization and compatible redevelopment/reuse. The project will be viewed as an instrument to ensure that old and new buildings are utilized in a manner that properly respects the past and the future. A key component of this update is to conduct a citywide survey of existing pre-1960 built structures and windshield survey of city blocks/subdivisions constructed between 1960-1969, to identify and develop a ‘watch list’ of potential historic resources within Plano. Project objectives include:
- Inclusiveness and transparency
- Preservation needs and achievements
- Citywide comprehensive inventory of potential heritage resources
- Updated inventory of existing designated heritage resources & heritage districts
- Recommendation for neighborhood conservation districts
- Survey and mapping
- Sense of community
- Sustainability and disaster preparedness
- A graphic intensive document with graphic timeline of Plano’s history and HP program
- Public-private partnership opportunities
- Revitalization strategy and future challenges
In December 2017, with the assistance of preservation consultants and a CLG grant from the Texas Historic Commission, the city began the HPP update process with following tasks completed until date:
Project Stakeholder Committee
A stakeholder committee of 15 members has been formed to help guide the planning process. This stakeholder committee serves as a critical sounding board for the project team and helps in representing the city’s preservation partners throughout the community.
Project Branding and Website
The HPP stakeholder committee chose the project name as ‘Preservation Plano 150’ with the tagline ‘Connecting History, Culture, Community’. Once approved, the updated plan will carry the program to Plano’s 150-year milestone, hence the name Preservation Plano 150. The project name and tagline have been incorporated into a logo and a project website, PreservationPlano150.com. The website provides project related updates, presentations, and announcements.
Public Outreach and Community Engagement
Public outreach and community involvement is a vital component of the entire HPP update process. The city has used various outreach efforts and tools such as social media, Nextdoor, online newsletters, neighborhood/downtown association meetings, Plano libraries, group emails, online questionnaires, mass mail-outs, and the project website to create project awareness and encourage public participation.
Online Community Survey
To seek public input on what priorities should be considered in the HPP update, an online questionnaire was created that remained open for 7-8 weeks. Over 200 responses were received with the questionnaire results posted online for public review.
Historic Assets Survey Map
To ensure no potential historic properties/resources are missed as part of the citywide survey of pre-1960 built structures, an online mapping tool has been created at PreservationPlano150.com. The online mapping tool allows citizens to report the location of any additional unidentified potential historic assets built prior to 1960.
So, far we’ve had great turnout and participation for the public meetings, stakeholder meetings, and online surveys and we look forward to garner more community interest, input and participation prior to the completion of the final HPP document.
For more information Click Here!
Bhavesh Mittal has served as the Heritage Preservation Officer for the City of Plano Planning Department since April 2012. In this role, Bhavesh administers the City’s heritage preservation program, which includes overseeing the historic tax exemption and preservation grant program. During his time in Plano, Bhavesh has been instrumental in updating the Heritage Preservation Ordinance, design standards for downtown heritage district, and historic resources survey for the two designated heritage districts, overseeing the National Register listing for Plano Downtown district and Saigling House, assisted in starting a preservation related online newsletter, writing and obtaining preservation grants from the state. Bhavesh has received his Master in Preservation Studies from Tulane University, New Orleans and Bachelor of Architecture from Mumbai University, India. Prior to working with City of Plano, Bhavesh has more than 10 years of experience working in both, private and public sector doing Architecture and Historic Preservation which includes international work in India and Nepal.
Every State is required to have a Preservation Plan! You can review Texas’s Preservation Plan: http://www.thc.texas.gov/preserve/projects-and-programs/texas-statewide-preservation-plan
NAPC’s Sample Preservation Plans- https://napcommissions.org/preservation-plans/
Shout out to the City of San Antonio and Fort Worth for being mentioned in this article.
Preservation Plan for Counties- http://your.kingcounty.gov/dnrp/library/dnrp-directors-office/historic-preservation/strategic-plan/final-hpp-strategic-plan.pdf
Counties can adopt Preservation Plans too.
Developing a Strategic Plan- https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Records/Article/CS3681
This resource is specific to preservation nonprofits and advocacy groups; however, it does a good job of explaining the planning process.