Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Hartford Finally Has a Preservation Ordinance

An e-mail to members of the Hartford Preservation Alliance, from Secretary Rafie Podolsky:

"Great news!

"This evening (May 23) the Hartford City Council unanimously passed the Hartford preservation ordinance. The ordinance will provide limited but significant protections to more than 4,000 Hartford buildings that are in districts listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places. The ordinance will take effect 30 days after the City Council approves design guidelines. It has a three-year sunset date, which means that it must be renewed after three years or it will expire.

"The City intends to hire a consultant to write both the design guidelines and the rules and procedures for the Commission. CAN YOU HELP US IDENTIFY APPROPRIATE CONSULTANTS? The ideal person to take on this task would be someone who is familiar with local historic preservation ordinances and their guidelines (the idea is to use the best of what others have developed, rather than start from scratch), has knowledge of architectural preservation and repair of older buildings, has a good sense of how to integrate design goals with reasonable costs, knows how to write in plain language understandable to lay people, and is able to use graphics and other techniques to produce easily readable materials.

"The City will be preparing a Request for Proposals, which we believe it will distribute widely; but HPA has also been invited to submit names of suitable persons to whom the RFP can be sent directly. If you can suggest persons who would be appropriate for this task, please submit their names IMMEDIATELY to Laura Knott-Twine, HPA's executive director, who will forward the names to the City. Names should be sent to her at rltwine@comcast.net. Please include, if possible, the consultant's name, address, phone number, and email address, along with a brief statement as to why you think the person would do a good job at this task.

"And a second piece of good news...... Tonight the City Council also unanimously adopted an ordinance designating the Capitol Building at 410 Asylum St.as a local historic property. This is the 1926 office building at the northern edge of Bushnell Park, the demolition of which the Connecticut Historic Commission, HPA, and the City of Hartford successfully blocked through litigation. Two years ago, the owners finally gave up and donated the building to Common Ground, an affordable housing developer. While the ultimate use of the building remains contentious (Mayor Perez wants the building to be used for middle income housing rather than supportive housing), the adoption of the ordinance subjects the building permanently to the jurisidiction of the City's Historic Properties Commission, which can prohibit demolition and must review and approve any changes to the exterior of the building before they can be implemented.

"Tonight's events are major victories for preservation and important steps for Hartford. We must now move on to the task of making the preservation ordinance a reality. If you can suggest consultants to write the guidelines and procedures, please get their names to us as soon as possible."

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