By Alice Guerrant, Historic Archaeologist
Our efforts to update the historic preservation plan are moving steadily forward. The Division has held public meetings across the state to hear from our citizens about the problems and issues that most concern them. Over 70 people attended these meetings and we heard a wide range of issues and ideas for strategies. Having gathered input from nearly 300 respondents so far, the online survey has also proven to be a successful component in the planning process.
So what are we hearing?
We hear a lot of concern about important (and irreplaceable) places being lost – an issue at the very heart of historic preservation.
Many people mention the problem of demolition by neglect, and the lack or weakness of laws and regulations that deal with this on the local level.
We hear the need for old and new to coexist harmoniously, with attention paid to creating incentives to adaptively reuse old buildings.
We hear about money and the lack of funding for people to maintain their historic buildings and run historic preservation programs.
Throughout all these meetings, we hear about the need for education:
to teach our young people about their history and how it is reflected in the world around them;
to provide workshops for people looking for the best ways to maintain the historic structures that house their homes and businesses;
to educate government officials about the financial and quality-of-life returns that are yielded from investment in historic preservation;
to train more people in the preservation trades that are needed to properly rehabilitate a historic building,
and to provide more opportunities for new arrivals in Delaware to find out about their new communities’ historic places and heritage.
We also hear many strategies to deal with these issues, roughly grouped as education, legislation, government incentives, collaboration, and communication.
Now we will hold a meeting with a small group of planners and preservationists to sift through all these suggestions and ideas, develop our new goals based on them, and list ways to reach those goals in the next five years.
We want to thank all those who took the time to come to our meetings and to take the online survey. Your input is absolutely key to this process. We really enjoyed meeting you and have heard suggestions that had not occurred to us before.
Do you have ideas and suggestions for the plan? Is there some place or activity you are particularly concerned about?
E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org before April 20.