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Public Input Sought on Kentucky's Long-Term Historic Preservation Plan

Public input is being requested for a new five-year strategic plan outlining goals and objectives for helping preserve historic buildings and other sites in the Commonwealth through 2020.

The Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office (KHC) has set up an online survey and will also be arranging a series of public meetings and networking opportunities during the first quarter of 2015. The goal is to gather feedback and creative ideas from a broad range of constituents, to help address issues such as how to approach neighborhood preservation more effectively, stem demolition by neglect, and foster greater understanding of the benefits of – and a stronger public commitment toward – the preservation and reuse of old buildings.

The survey takes five minutes to complete, at, and the agency is particularly interested in hearing from individuals who do not think of themselves as “historic preservationists.”

Once completed in early 2016, the plan is intended to serve as a tool for use by individuals, nonprofits and local governments interested in applying the strategies to local issues.

“A state plan will only be successful if it truly reflects what the needs are, and how the public can respond in a proactive way to preserve historic places that have meaning and significance,” said Craig Potts, KHC executive director and state historic preservation officer.

“Historic preservation is about much more than old buildings,” said Vicki Birenberg, KHC planning coordinator, who is overseeing plan development. “Preservation provides many beneficial opportunities – to feel connected to the history and identity of our communities, for economic revitalization and placemaking, for strengthening social connections, and to reuse existing structures to conserve scarce resources. We want to use this as an opportunity to demonstrate how preserving historic buildings and the historic fabric of our communities is becoming increasingly relevant to each of our lives.”

Historic downtowns and older neighborhoods are being re-energized as a result of the renewed interest in walkability and the enhanced quality of life that comes with the freedom from driving, Birenberg said. This is supported by national trends showing that downtown and urban settings are becoming more desirable as places to live, while suburban areas “are scrambling to address the lack of pedestrian infrastructure and proximity between destinations,” she said.

New tools such as “Walk Score”® ratings have shown that higher walkability scores translate into higher real estate values, while traditional older neighborhoods designed with sidewalks, front porches and similar amenities to promote connectivity and social interaction are being replicated in developments utilizing new urbanist neighborhood design principles.

“We want to hear from all stakeholders, especially those that have the ability in their day-to-day activities to make decisions or influence what happens to historic and cultural resources – not just buildings, but also landscapes such as public spaces or farms, and sites such as historic bridges, rock fences or roadside buildings,” Birenberg said.

From the Kentucky Heritage Council

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