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Thursday, October 29, 2009

programmatic agreement

One of the ironies of the issue of getting NSP funds on a fast track has been that when the Historical Society contacted the city originally back in June, there was a new Programmatic Agreement template available that would have streamlined the approval process for federally funded rehabs. The Community Development Department had not filled the template out for submission at that time, while the County's version of the same agreement had already been submitted and signed by the Advisory Council in Washington and OHPO in Columbus. As of today, nearly six months later, the city's agreement is being held up for approval in Columbus because of the city's failure to engage the Historical Society in the Section 106 Review process. Operating under an older version of the agreement or none at all, the city has to submit every project to OHPO for approval.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

demolition list response

At Friday's Trustee meeting the Historical Society concurred unanimously with the assessment by the Preservation Commission, and a letter has been sent to Codes about the demolition list, including the finalized historical research on the house at 331 Prescott.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

preservation commission meeting

The City of Mansfield Historic Preservation Commission reviewed the proposed demolition list provided by the city (and linked below in a previous post). The Commission voted to send a letter to Codes identifying the properties on the list that are on the Ohio Historic Inventory but taking no exception to the demolitions except for 331 Prescott which can potentially be land banked, and 153 S. Franklin which should not have been demolished without review, and which may have also warranted saving.
The Richland County Historical Society will consider its response to the list on Friday.

Friday, October 16, 2009

331 prescott st

The following drama played out last month and I'm recapping it here because of the RCHS's ongoing efforts that are outlined in previous posts.

After learning of an Aug. 18 Council vote to demolish 331 Prescott St. we put Mansfield's Community Development Department and the Mayor on written notice that the Historical Society would have an interest and would submit historical information about the property for consideration. On Sept 7 after getting no response, we submitted a preliminary assessment. 3 days later on the 10th we learned early in the morning that the house would come down that day. Through the intervention of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office and HUD's State Environmental Oficer the house was left standing. It is still on the demolition list, however, as the city presumably follows through with Section 106 Review.

The house was built in 1865 by Henry D. Keith and sold to Joseph Allonas in 1870. Keith was judge of probate court and Allonas was the first superintendent of the Altman Taylor Company which established here in 1867. The house is Italian Villa style, originally sporting a cupola, and porches. Like Oak Hill Cottage, the main interior walls are brick from the basement to the roof. It sits less than 1000 feet west of Oak Hill, off Springmill Street. The situation with the property seems hopeful for protection with good possibilities for land banking it through a non profit.

153 s. franklin

The demolition list provided by Codes yesterday included 153 S. Franklin, which is one of three houses on the list already demolished. This old brick house is (sorry, was) listed on the Ohio Historic Inventory and was built prior to 1853 according to the OHI information sheet. This is a good example of why the Historical Society is pressing the city for consulting party status per the provisions of the Preservation Act, and putting a public spotlight on how the city is spending federal tax dollars. A Section 106 Review should have been done by the city on the demolition of this property, and Ohio Historic Preservation Office approval granted, before being demolished (or saved).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

cast iron cover

I hate blog posts without photos, so here's a photo to break up the monotony of the last three!

Detail of fireplace cover in the parlor at Oak Hill Cottage

demolition list

This morning Codes and Permits sent us the list of demolitons currently in the works. This is a giant step forward at least from the aspect of being able to review the list of properties and determine if any warrant our input. It does not address the requested list of rehab projects which Codes says will have to come from Community Development. If anyone is interested in it, here is a link which is an xls file. Also per the email I got:
"Sites approved at the last Council meeting (10/6/09 have not been released for bid) are:
131 Arthur Ave., 35 W. Augustine, 14-14 1/2 W. Blanche St., 143 Hedges St., 137 W. Dickson Ave., 96 Marion Ave., 125 Ford St.,
Sites scheduled for 10/20/09 Council meeting are:
311 W. Sixth St., 64-66-66 1/2 Wood St., 68 Wood St."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

historical society request for consulting party status

The previous blog post below gives background on understanding the current problem the City of Mansfield is having with complying with the Preservation Act.
In June 2009 the Richland County Historical Society requested Consulting Party status in Section 106 Review of federally funded projects under the city's Community Development Department via official letter to the head of the department. In July 2009 the Historical Society requested a list of the adresses of federally funded rehab projects and demolitions being planned via official letter. Neither request has been acknowledged or responded to by the city, although City Council has approved at least two batches of demolitions in recent meetings, and reportedly about 80 are planned, using Neighborhood Stabilization Funds.
NSP funds are on a fast track, and if not spent correctly and within the deadline framework, I understand it could influence our ability to get round 2 funds. With Community Development stonewalling the Historical Society for the last 4 1/2 months there may come a day when the city wakes up to its responsibilities under the Preservation Act, realizes they have botched the process and can't get OHPO approval for their projects, and blame the delay or failure of the process on the Historical Society.
My purpose of belaboring my blog with this sad tale is to head off the blame game when this comes to pass. We have made repeated attempts to inform the city of their legal responsibility to respond and resolve this. We have worked through coucil members, the Ohio Preservation Office in Columbus, and the Department of HUD.
It now comes down to waiting and hoping that somehow this gets worked out.

preservation act

This post will be a preamble or footnote to further posts about the City of Mansfield's HUD program and how the Preservation Act applies to their operations.
The following paragraphs are extracted verbatim from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation publication "Protecting Historic Properties; A Citizen's Guide to Section 106 Review".
In 1966, the Federal Government created a process to ensure that American citizens would always have the opportunity to learn about and influence Government activities that could affect their communities’ historic resources.
Section 106 review is your opportunity to alert the Federal Government to the historic properties you value and to influence decisions about the Federal projects that affect them.
In the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), Congress established a comprehensive program to preserve the historical and cultural foundations of the Nation as a living part of community life. Section 106 of NHPA is crucial to that program, because it requires consideration of historic preservation in the multitude of Federal actions that take place nationwide. Section 106 requires Federal agencies to considerthe effects of their actions on historic properties and provide the ACHP an opportunity to comment on Federal projects prior to implementation.
Regulations issued by the ACHP guide Section 106 review, specifying actions Federal agencies must take to meet their legal obligations. The regulations are published in the Code of Federal Regulations at 36 CFR Part 800, “Protecting Historic Properties,” and can be found on the ACHP’s Web site at
To successfully complete Section 106 review,Federal agencies must:
• determine if Section 106 of NHPA applies to a given project and, if so, initiate the review;
• gather information to decide which properties in the project area are listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places;
• determine how historic properties might be affected;
• explore alternatives to avoid or reduce harm to historic properties; and
• reach agreement with the SHPO [State Historic Preservation Office] /tribe (and the ACHP in some cases) on measures to deal with any adverse effects or obtain advisory comments from the ACHP, which are sent to the head of the agency.
The point of Section 106 review is not to stop projects. It is to ensure that Federal agencies fully consider historic preservation issues and the views of the public during project planning.
Throughout Section 106 review, Federal agencies must consider the views of the public. This is particularly important when an agency is trying to identify historic properties that might be affected by a project and is considering ways to avoid or minimize harm. In either case, agencies must give the public a chance to learn
about the project and provide their views.
In addition to seeking the views of the public, Federal agencies must actively consult with certain organizations and individuals during review. This interactive consultation is at the heart of Section 106 review. You or your organization may want to take an active role in Section 106 review, especially if you have a legal or economic interest in the project or the affected properties.
Who Are “Consulting Parties”? The following parties are entitled to actively participate as consulting parties during Section 106 review: State Historic Preservation Officers Indian tribes Native Hawaiian organizations Local governments Applicants for Federal assistance, permits, licenses, and other approvals Other individuals and organizations with a demonstrated interest in the project may participate in Section 106 review as consulting parties “due to the nature of their legal or economic relation to the undertaking or affected properties, or their concern with the undertaking’s effects on historic properties.”
Federal agencies must conclude Section 106 review before project funds are approved or permits issued. They must not sign contracts or take other actions that would preclude consideration of the full range of alternatives to avoid or minimize harm to historic properties before Section 106 review is complete.
The City of Mansfield is an "entitlement city", operating the HUD program through their office of Community Development on behalf of the Department of HUD. The city takes on the responsibility that HUD has, as a federal agency, to comply with the Preservation Act.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

oak hill cottage out of doors

A slide show about the historic landscape restoration project at Oak Hill Cottage