Placerville pursues Preserve America designation

By From page A9 | February 15, 2013

The Placerville City Council approved a resolution at Tuesday’s meeting to apply for designation as a Preserve America Community unanimously and with a lot of praise for the application document created by the Historical Advisory Committee.

Preserve America is a federal initiative program started in 2003, with the purpose of encouraging and supporting local community efforts to preserve and promote their cultural and natural heritage. The Historical Advisory Committee of Placerville initiated the idea of applying for the Preserve America designation and created a document for the process.

“I’m really impressed. Everyone in the community should read this document,” said Councilwoman Patty Borelli. Mayor Wendy Mattson praised city staff and the HAC for the detail and effort demonstrated in its creation. Pictures of Gold Bug Mine tours, the Belltower decked out for Sesquicentennial, Wagon Train and the Festival of Lights were supplied by Bill Robinson and Steve Youel to accompany the text.

Benefits of the Preserve America designation include recognition by the White House with a certificate signed by the First Lady; a Preserve America Community road sign; eligibility for Preserve America grants; listing in a Web-based Preserve America Community directory; national and regional press releases; authorization to use the Preserve America logo, and being featured in National Register Itineraries and in “Teaching with Historic Places ” curricular material used by the National Park Service.

Grant amounts range from $20,000 to $250,000 and are matching one-to-one. There is no cost to become a Preserve America community. Currently 705 towns across the 50 states have received this designation.

“It’s not just about old buildings,” said Roger Klemm, a member of HAC. “It’s about our heritage and culture.”

Klemm emphasized that the designation is an award and brings no government regulation, no overlay requirements or restrictions on building and development. “It’s an award of recognition and typically property values go up. It gives the city some street credibility and some priority for federal grants.”

The Preserve America designation is subject to three requirements: the community has recently supported a historic or cultural preservation project that promotes heritage tourism or fosters economic vitality  that involved a public-private partnership; the community governing body has adopted a resolution indicating its commitment to the preservation of its heritage assets; the community meets at least five criteria in three categories — discovering heritage through historic places, protecting historic resources and promoting historic assets.

The city of Placerville has long been a sponsor of the Wagon Train and supports the El Dorado County Historical Museum, the Fountain-Tallman Museum and the Gold Bug Park and Museum. It recently established a Historical Action Committee for leading and reviewing historic preservation activities. Tuesday’s action supplied the final requirement of a resolution to apply for the Preserve America designation.

Other Preserve America communities in California include Mendocino, Sacramento, Monterey and Colusa. Throughout the nation Preserve America communities include the cities of Plymouth and Salem in Massachusetts; Annapolis, Md.; Vicksburg, Miss.; Lancaster, Pa.; and Leesburg and Williamsburg in Virginia.

The city’s application for Preserve America designation is endorsed by the California-Nevada chapter of the Oregon-California Trails Association, the National Pony Express Association, The Friends of Snowshoe Thompson, the Placerville Downtown Association, the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce, the Placerville Drive Association, the Placerville Economic Development Advisory Committee and the Office of  Historic Preservation, Department of Parks and Recreation.

“The applications are submitted quarterly and we have time to get this in by March 1,” said Andrew Painter, Placerville city planner and HAC staff liaison. “We should hear back from them by April or May.”

Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or [email protected] Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.

Wendy Schultz

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