Commission’s role now is more important than ever
As chairwoman of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission and on behalf of the other eight commissioners, I take this opportunity to make the community aware of a few of our past accomplishments and some of our goals for the remainder of 2005.
In 1997 the Glenwood Springs City Council created the Historic Preservation Commission and appointed members of the community to advise council on historic preservation issues.
While preservation of the city’s historic buildings is still our main focus, we recognize that as Glenwood enters a new chapter in its history, and our downtown struggles to sustain and reinvent itself to compete in the 21st century, HPC’s role is more vital than ever in helping assure the economic vitality of our downtown businesses.
Heritage and cultural tourism, along with historic preservation, can be a powerful factor in the economic equation of our city.
Comprehensive data on the economic impacts of heritage tourism and preservation collected from states such as Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia show that travelers who come for cultural and historical activities stay longer and spend more money per day than other types of visitors.
Another trend on the horizon that could benefit Glenwood is luring the retiring Baby Boomers to visit. Generally, they have disposable wealth and when they travel, they prefer to visit authentic places like Glenwood to experience the culture and sense of place our downtown and other historical landmarks offer.
Preservation is important because reinvestment in historic areas attracts new businesses and can bring civic pride and an increase in property tax values as it helps to revitalize homes and businesses.
One of our past accomplishments includes completing an extensive architectural inventory and study of 113 local structures, many of which are eligible for local landmark status and a few that are eligible for national register designation.
In an effort to answer some of the city’s immediate needs, we hope that at least two of our goals for 2005 will pull more people into the downtown core. In an attempt to bring people off Interstate 70, we are working on several new “Historic Downtown” signs that we will place at key locations by the end of the summer.
In November we will complete an application that will try to get Glenwood Springs national designation as a “Preserve America Community,” a White House nationwide initiative that highlights the efforts of the president and Mrs. Bush to preserve the history of small towns like ours.
The only way our downtown can survive is to stay unique and what sets our city apart are its historic buildings and landmarks. And that is why the HPC is critical. While our job as commissioners is to protect Glenwood’s greatest possession ” our history, we also have a commitment to build the future and for our downtown to compete in today’s competitive business environment those two ideas must coexist.
We believe that our historic downtown can have a prosperous future ” but it demands that we honor its past.
Kim Doose is the chairwoman of the Historic Preservation Commission and the “Our Towns” reporter for the Post Independent.
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