Concerned that its June 27 presentation to the village council was ineffective, members of the Historic Preservation Committee are plotting their return to council chambers on July 25″this time with a slide show in hand.
Their goal, said committee members at a meeting last week, is to demonstrate the types of Forest Park homes which would be eligible for state rehab grants if the village passes the historic preservation ordinance proposed by the committee.
The Historic Preservation Committee met July 7 to discuss the status of their ordinance proposal, presented before the village council on June 27.
They concluded the presentation was relatively ineffective due to the fact that the council only received the proposed ordinance hours before the meeting and probably did not have a chance to read it in its entirety. They also discussed responses to concerns raised by the village council that evening.
Commissioner Theresa Steinbach, for instance, expressed concern that residents would not be allowed to act freely and do what they would want with their homes.
Rich Vitton noted that people can do whatever they want to their homes as long as it is in sequence with the architectural design of the original building. All additions that are within residential zoning codes are fully allowed.
Another concern of the council was how many residents would actually be eligible for the preservation grant money. Currently the committee is walking the streets of Forest Park collecting information and compiling an elaborate map of all properties that could be affected. What they are slowly realizing is that many of Forest Park’s homes are in compliance with the proposed ordinance.
The committee would have to assess home candidates on a case-by-case basis. In that circumstance the committee said that homes would be judged on the owner’s willingness to stay true to the architectural design. The surrounding area would also be taken into account; if most homes in an immediate area are preserved, then it would be beneficial for Forest Park to preserve the few homes in that area that are not.
To clear up any confusion the council might have over what would be an eligible home, the committee suggested presenting a slide show to the community and the council. The program would consist of showing several homes that would fit into the ordinance. The committee would then explain what the owner would need to change in order to qualify for the grant money. A few before-and-after examples would help illustrate what a large difference a few changes can make to the overall appeal of the historic homes.
“There are so many lovely homes in Forest Park that are covered by siding,” Vitton said. All they would have to do is uncover that siding and find beautiful clapboard that just needs a coat of paint, and it would make all the difference.”
The committee discussed the future steps it will have to take once the ordinance is passed. Committee member Paul Barbahen noted, “After this step is done, we need to send the ordinance to the State Historic Commission because without them, there is no money. Once we receive funding from the state, they will give it to the village, and then we will be the guardian of those funds.”
Committee member Kim Zandstra expressed her concern with how residents will claim their financial grant. The problem she sees with the ordinance is that in order to work on your home, you need money, but in order to receive the grant money you have to have already financed the work on the home yourself.
Barbahen explained that the committee would help the homeowner receive a low-interest loan from a bank. Once the construction is completed in the style of the original architecture, the committee would disburse the appropriate predetermined funds to the homeowner.
“I don’t understand how anyone could not be for this,” said Barbahen. “All the ordinance really does is dish out money to local landowners if they want to restore their homes. Why not pass it?”