Monday, January 30, 2017

Ten-year historic preservation plan being drafted for Belvidere


Posted by RVPEditor / In Belvidere Daily Republican, Public Meetings

By Bob Balgemann


The Chicago-based Lakota Group will prepare a 10-year historic preservation plan for the city.

The goal of the plan is to come up with a concept that will help the city integrate preservation as an economic development and planning tool for revitalizing downtown and other traditional neighborhoods in the community.

“We have never had a historic preservation plan completed for the city,” Becky Tobin, Belvidere’s finance and budget director, said. She also is chairperson of the Belvidere City Historic Preservation Commission.

“Since 70 percent of the project is being paid for with grant money, this was the perfect time to do one. Local stakeholders and residents will be involved in the process, to come up with short and long-term preservation planning goals that will help shape the city’s future,” Tobin said. “As business owners, homeowners, or developers come to Belvidere, we want to be able to show them the vision we have for our community, and this plan will enable to help us do that.”

The city’s committee of the whole recommended approval of the 10-year plan being created in a voice vote, with one dissenting, during its Monday, Jan. 9 meeting. City council approval was expected on Tuesday, Jan. 17.

Lakota has 25 years of experience in urban design, planning, landscape architect, and historic preservation. Its work will cost an estimated $29,900, with 70 percent being financed by a federal Certified Local Government Grant that is being administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Commission. The city historic preservation commission will pay the balance of 30 percent.

The plan is to be completed within one year of the contract with Lakota being executed.

Kathy Miller, when she was interim planning director for the city and Boone County, provided further details about the proposed preservation plan.

As background, she said preservation of Belvidere’s downtown and surrounding neighborhoods is a priority, as stated in the Boone County Comprehensive Plan of 2006.

The new plan will identify and assess the city’s resources and current preservation activities. Economic development through historic preservation is a goal as stated in the comprehensive plan.

Belvidere already has taken steps in that direction.

The city’s historic preservation commission annually recognizes property owners who have improved their historically significant homes and commercial buildings. Seven such awards were presented during a reception on Thursday, May 12, 2016.

Miller led a survey several years ago of two separate business districts in Belvidere, which led to them being named to the National Register of Historic Places.

Preservation proposals in the downtown will be among the strategies identified for implementation in the plan.

Belvidere has been cognizant of its historic assets for a long time.

The city has a historic district, consisting of 19 homes along West Hurlbut Street; 31 homes and buildings have been designated as Local Landmarks; and five buildings within the city have been placed on the National Register.

Currently, homes around the city’s courthouse are being surveyed as to their level of historic significance.

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