Nevada's sesquicentennial year ended in 2014, but that celebratory year has piqued people's interest: History is still hot! At the beginning of this year, HRPS began partnering with Washoe County Library System to expand the reach of our programs by asking presenters to repeat their programs at the Downtown Reno Library on the Sunday immediately following the regular Wednesday program. Attendance continues to be strong at both programs, and many of our long-time attendees have switched to Sunday afternoon. At the same time, the Sunday programs have increased our visibility to library patrons who were previously unaware of HRPS. Steve Davis, HRPS Program Chair, is working with the library to continue offering these additional programs in future years.
The first Saturday of May was the launch May for HRPS''s 2015 Walking Tour Season, and Scott Gibson's tour of the Newlands Neighborhood drew a crowd of 47. We are anticipating similar attendance for the remaining June and July walks. We had to close registration for Robin Holabird's new walk on May 23, Movie Footprints in Reno.
May 2 was the University of Nevada's Day at the Museum where a Consortium of 12 museums on and near the University of Nevada, Reno joined forces to allow residents and tourists to learn more about Reno and Nevada's rich resources of history, culture, natural history, science, and engineering. The HRPS walking tour guides were treated to a sample on Saturday, April 18, with an informative tour of Mackay School of Mines Building (which houses the W. M. Keck Museum) led by Garrett Barmore, curator and director of the Keck and HRPS board member.
The $10.9 million budget surplus announced by the City definitely had HRPS members imagining a plethora of ways that money could be put to good use for historic preservation. Among the ideas for using some of $10.9 million is the suggestion that the City allocate funds for a City Historic Preservation Officer. The money must be spent by the end of the fiscal year (June 30), and both the City Council and the Reno Gazette-Journal have solicited ideas from the public. The majority of comments submitted online to the RGJ call for improving and upgrading the city's parks and cleaning up and improving conditions in the downtown area.
The news of the surplus is a positive sign that the City of Reno is starting to recover from the economic downturn. As we grow fiscally stronger it is time to let our City Council know that we care about Historic Preservation and it is time for Reno to explore the benefits of creating a City Historic Preservation Officer. As a city employee, such an officer would work under the Community Development Department and work with the Historic Resources Commission and the Planning Commission. Many cities similar in size to Reno have such a position to ensure that a city's future honors its past.
Responsibilities included in similar jobs include: advise the local government on matters of preservation to ensure that historic preservation is considered at all levels of decision making; supply information to the public on the criteria for National Register listing and information on how to complete National Register nominations; supply technical rehabilitation and restoration information to guide property owners in appropriate methods for maintaining the architectural integrity of historic properties; assist people in efforts to list their properties on the National Register; and have brochures available detailing preservation tax incentives for historic buildings and applications as well as historic preservation easement and tax abatement information.
HRPS received good responses to our call for buildings that need to be considered for addition to the Endangered Building Watch List, and we have now added the Lear Theater, the mid-century car dealership building on the south west corner of South Virginia and Cadillac, and the 1889 NCO Engine House at 401 East Fourth Street. If you know anything about the last two properties, please let us know.
I close this message with a quote from the City of Tacoma Planning and Development Services:
Preservation is not just about preserving the past: it is essential for creating a future… that retains its identity and uniqueness. Preservation is a key strategy for economic development and urban revitalization… Preservation is also key to sustainable development in the future: the greenest building is the one that is already built.
Byllie D'Amato Andrews