Sunday, December 04, 2005

Recovery should preserve history ...

The Advocate (2005), of Baton Rouge, LA, suggests that: “As the New Orleans area seeks to rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it will have to strike a bargain between two principles of the recovery effort.” The principles are:

The rebuilding should proceed with all due speed.

The recovery should unfold with care and proper planning.

Richard Moe, who heads the nonprofit National Trust for Historic Preservation, said of New Orleans that “There's no other area for the country that has such a concentration of historic districts.” He adds that “This is the biggest threat to historical resources in my history at the trust, and perhaps in American history.”

Moe said he's been assured by New Orleans officials that “No mass demolition is going to occur without a deliberate process.” Moe said he wants historical preservation experts “embedded” with recovery teams as assessments are done.

The trust wants Congress to approve $60 million in preservation grants to Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

The Advocate points out that “The trust also is advocating a tax refund equal to 30 percent of a homeowner's uncovered restoration costs. Under the plan, residents too poor to pay taxes would get restoration grants. Additionally, the trust wants the federal government to relax rules governing commercial credits for preservation.”

Will there be resentment among homeowners whose flood-damaged property is not eligible for such generous assistance because it's not considered historic? That could be the case. But Moe said historic structures need special attention because of their contribution to a community's identity.

Moe also pointed out that tourism, a linchpin of the New Orleans economy, is connected to the city's unique period architecture. That's a resource that New Orleans, already impoverished by Katrina, cannot afford to lose.

Advocate. “Recovery should preserve history”, October 4, 2005; see /stories/100405/opi_views1001.shtml


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