Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Different Missions

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Different Missions

At April 10’s City Council legislative session, Justin Wilson and Paul Smedberg submitted a proposal to consolidate the Old and Historic Board of Architectural Review, established in 1946, with the Parker-Gray Board of Architectural Review, created in 1984. The reason stated for the proposal during the meeting was that the docket of the Parker Gray BAR has been reduced because of administrative approvals and that this would reduce staff time necessary and increase efficiency.

The mayor spoke first saying that "These are two distinct entities," and that "it requires much more public input." Del Pepper said she was "not very enthusiastic" and needed "more input from stakeholders" and did not like that a "proposal was sprung on us."

I observed that no consideration in the discussion seemed to be given to the significant history of these two entities, the fact that they have different criteria, and have different missions to preserve structures from different era's. The Old and Historic was created to preserve Colonial history and sites related to George Washington and is overlapped by three National Register Districts. Parker-Gray is preserving primarily African American History and took until 2004 to establish a the Parker Gray National Register District.

I would have thought that council would have been more respectful of the progress the city has made in recognizing the contributions of African American history. It would have been much better to have had both BAR’s and other historical organizations present and to hear from them the request to merge. It also would have been more reassuring to the public that this proposal’s real goal was not dismantle institutions that protect the architectural character of our neighborhoods.

Robert Ray

Candidate for City Council