Arizona State Parks Director takes Historic and Archaeological Preservation Series on the road

[Source: Verde Independent] – Arizona State Parks Director Bryan Martyn is coordinating public meetings and will travel across the state in a new program called “The Director’s Historic and Archaeological Preservation Series,” which will focus on Arizona‘s historic and cultural treasures.

The Arizona State Parks department not only manages all 27 State Parks, but also the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), which has various roles in 90 communities across the State. Martyn will engage local leaders, residents, museum leaders and other preservation enthusiasts in discussions about Arizona‘s important historic and archaeological resources.

SHPO manages the nationally acclaimed Site Steward program that protects archaeological resources throughout Arizona. The program has more than 1,000 volunteers to oversee millions of acres of state/federal and tribal land. (Watch video: Harrison Ford www.AZStateparks.com/SHPO/index.html). The SHPO also reviews properties for the National Register of Historic Places, reviews actions that might affect historic properties, provides technical assistance to historic property owners and Certified Local Governments, and oversees historic matching grants.

“I am planning meetings about our important historic and archaeological resources that need to be preserved and promoted for tourism, such as the historic State Parks. But I also am interested in supporting the “Main Street Program” which is now managed by the State Historic Preservation Office. I hope to start a dialogue about how we can work together to protect resources and re-adapt or re-use historic resources and focus on how these resources provide economic benefits for the communities. My goal is to bring attention to critical historic structures and how they could be protected through adaptive re-use.”

A schedule of each town visited will be posted on AZStateParks.com (Director’s Series) and the public is welcome to contact him about issues in their communities as they relate to historic and cultural resources and talk with him while he is there. Follow the series on Twitter and Facebook at AZStateParks. If you would like to contact the director, email pio@azstateparks.gov. (Below are preliminary sites to visit with a final schedule posted on the website weekly.)

For more information about the Director’s Historic and Archaeological Preservation Series or for information about all of the Arizona State Parks visit AZStateParks.com or call (602) 542-4174.

Small cities struggle with historic preservation efforts

[Source: John Yantis, AZ Republic] – The wrecking ball often swings faster in smaller cities trying to save history, preservationists and local leaders say. Money, know-how, constantly changing priorities and new residents with shallow roots in the community often hinder efforts to protect historic architecture and cultural sites. The dilemma leaves longtime residents disappointed and frustrates efforts to save local landmarks.

In June, former students failed to save an auditorium-turned gymnasium in Litchfield Park. Constructed in 1928, the gym was a reminder of the city’s early days. A month later, Buckeye officials voted to demolish a cotton gin that was also built in 1928. After the decision, a town councilman wondered aloud why Buckeye bothers to advertise its historic past. “The gin is just a rusty building,” said Councilman Robert Garza, a fifth-generation native of Buckeye. “But it is part of our heritage.”

Preservation can present challenges in larger cities, too. In Mesa, organized efforts to save historic sites began in the mid-1990s, but advocates said they only came after the city lost numerous noteworthy buildings, including a social hall, park and school.

Impediments to saving history in smaller cities are usually more acute. They often start too late. “It can happen at all different levels, but I think small communities haven’t spent a lot (of) time inventorying,” said James Garrison, state historic-preservation officer.

“They’re interested in growth and new things and attracting businesses and doing all these things and often don’t take a look around at what might fit a new use or be available for adaptive reuse.” Adaptive reuse is a process that allows older buildings to be used for new purposes while retaining their historic features.

Many large cities have preservation officers and commissions that allow experts to plan and look for properties that could become endangered, Garrison said. Smaller towns’ historic sites often go vacant, which escalates the cost to fix them up. Buildings left empty deteriorate quickly and are often vandalized. Also, often there is little practical discussion about what they will be used for. Every property can’t become a museum, but these sites still need an active life in the community, Garrison said.

Financial challenges – Preservation efforts in Arizona were recently complicated after a state-funding source dried up. In 2010, the governor and state Legislature stripped a portion of Arizona’s Heritage Fund that provided $1.5 million in grants for cities to find, preserve, stabilize and rehabilitate buildings and other historic sites. The fund was made up of lottery proceeds approved by voters in 1990.

The Arizona Heritage Alliance and others are working to restore the fund, which is administered by the Arizona State Parks Board. The Arizona Preservation Foundation, a group of volunteer preservation advocates, did not gather enough signatures to get the issue on the November ballot. They plan to get the issue on the ballot in 2014.

As public money for preservation becomes more scarce, some cities have unsuccessfully tried to find private financing. In Goodyear, a years-long effort to restore the Litchfield Train Station is taking a new direction after backers had difficulty raising enough money through raffles and car and train shows. Members of the city’s Centennial Commission decided in May to form a non-profit foundation, said Wally Campbell, a city councilwoman who serves on the board. Supporters hope the foundation will qualify for grants. Someday, foundation officials hope it will be part of a train park for children. “We’re excited about it, but we’re moving forward slowly,” Campbell said. The 1,900-square-foot station was built in the 1920s by the Southern Pacific Railroad. In 2009, the city moved the depot 3 miles from its original location, to an area near the intersection of Cotton Lane and Maricopa 85.

Ever-changing plans – In Buckeye, evolving city plans have frustrated historic-preservation efforts. For years, informal town plans called for turning the Eastman Gin into a museum and downtown gateway to showcase the area’s agricultural heritage. Town officials spent more than $2 million to buy the gin and surrounding property. In the end, renovating the landmark, which was once used to separate cotton from its seeds, was too costly. Demolition is expected to begin in early September. For Garza, it was the latest example of shifting priorities. “It’s hard because Buckeye went through a giant boom, and we had a big influx of people from outside,” he said. “They didn’t necessarily see what we saw in our community, in our history, in our culture.”

Successful saves – Jim McPherson, president of the Arizona Preservation Foundation, says there is greater awareness about the importance of historic preservation in smaller cities. Officials and the public are more focused on sustainability and adapting buildings to be reused, he said. Old Main, a 90-year-old vacant building on Peoria High’s campus, will be saved. About $1.6 million will be spent to save the building.

Phoenix has used bond money to renovate many historic structures, McPherson said.

And earlier this month, Litchfield Park struck a deal with the school district that will ensure the protection of a mission-style church built in the early 1920s. Unfortunately, some historic sites in small towns can’t be saved, McPherson said. “We hurt every time that happens because that’s one more strike against our heritage in a state that’s relatively new,” McPherson said.

Communities applaud bid to revive Heritage Fund for historic projects

[Source: Jessica Testa, Cronkite News, 2/16/2012] – FLORENCE – To most people, these old buildings look like they’re decaying from the inside out. To Bonnie Bariola, they’re treasures, held up by century–old adobe brick and generations of hand-me-down stories. The Ceyla Long Sweeny Residence, built in 1876, is a small adobe house with manure for insulation and saguaro ribs for a roof. Bariola points to broken window, shattered by a tossed rock. A few blocks over, three dead pigeons lie just inside the entrance to the Cuen House and Butcher Shop, the first telephone exchange in Pinal County. Bariola fearlessly marches through as pigeons coo from the rafters.

Plans to restore the buildings won grants of more than $90,000 each through the Heritage Fund, which Arizona voters established in 1990. And both were stripped of that promised funding in 2009, when the state swept the Heritage Fund in an effort to balance its sinking budget.

In 2010, lawmakers eliminated the Heritage Fund, pulling the plug on dozens of approved, construction–ready projects, including five in Florence.

Bonnie Bariola, member of the Florence Preservation Foundation, wrote a grant for the restoration of the town's historic White House. Bonnie Bariola, member of the Florence Preservation Foundation, wrote a grant for the restoration of the town’s historic White House.

“Using Heritage funds, we’ve been able to maintain a part of history,” said Bariola, grant writer for the Florence Preservation Foundation. “Without funding, the culture of these buildings wastes away.” During the Heritage Fund’s 20–year run, Florence received more than $1.5 million in 18 state grants to restore its 19th century structures. The former mining community and Pinal County seat was third in the state for total dollars granted, behind Phoenix and Tucson.

Now, a state lawmaker is moving forward with a resolution that would put the Heritage Fund back on the ballot in November. If approved, the fund would be protected from any future sweeps thanks to the 1998 Voter Protection Act, a constitutional amendment that prohibits state lawmakers from reallocating any voter–created funds. “It’s fitting we do this, especially in our centennial year,” Rep. Russ Jones, R–Yuma, said recently to the House Committee on Agriculture and Water, which unanimously voted to support HCR 2047.

The Heritage Fund provided up to $10 million annually from the Arizona Lottery to both the Arizona Game and Fish Department and Arizona State Parks. Game and Fish used the money to promote outdoor recreation, help threatened and endangered species and educate residents about the environment and wildlife. Arizona State Parks used the fund for its own acquisitions and improvements and administered grants through programs benefiting historic preservation, trails and parks.

It’s not just Florence benefiting from the Heritage Fund – every city and town in Arizona has received the grant money, said Janice Miano, part–time executive director of the Arizona Heritage Alliance. “The impact is most noticeable in the rural counties, where any infusion of external funds for trail maintenance, land acquisition and construction repair will have a far larger impact to the relative population,” she said.

A Heritage Fund grant for $60,000 was canceled for a book on midcentury modern architecture published by the Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission. The city was able to shore up the money from federal grants to complete the project, and “Midcentury Marvels” will soon have its second printing.

Oro Valley wasn’t as fortunate. A $27,660 grant to build a dog park was canceled, along with a $111,160 grant to restore the 1874 Steam Pump Ranch. Ainsley Legner, director or Oro Valley’s Parks, Recreation, Library and Cultural Resources Department, said she’d be delighted to see Oro Valley residents be able to visit and use that land for recreation. “We don’t have any money available to improve the site. We can’t stabilize all the structures and provide the necessary amenities, like a restroom or a fire hydrant,” she said. “When you take away something as significant as Heritage funding, you can no longer pull all those resources together to make good things happen.”

Jay Ziemann, legislative liaison for Arizona State Parks, said the agency’s board supports Jones’ resolution but that his optimism is limited. Ziemann said many legislators share the views of Rep. Brenda Barton, R–Safford, who raised concerns in the committee meeting about the availability of lottery funds. A reinstated Heritage Fund would reduce the amount of revenue available to the Legislature. “It’s nice that it cleared that first step, but it’s got a long way to go,” Ziemann said. “I know it has a lot of hurdles ahead.”