Chairman Bob Conte called the Archives and History Commission meeting to order at 9:30 a.m. at Glenville State College and thanked the local historical society for hosting the evening dinner and program the night before. Members then introduced themselves. In attendance, in addition to the chairman, were ex officio voting member Dr. William Arnett, president, West Virginia Historical Association; and voting members Dr. Kenneth Bailey, Margaret Brennan, Dr. Gloria Gozdzik, Dr. Charles “Chuck” Hulse, Dr. Charles Ledbetter, Joy Stalnaker, Walton “Kip” Stowell, Noel Tenney, and Dr. Joan Walker. Ex officio non-voting members present were Phyllis Baxter, president, Preservation Alliance of West Virginia; Dr. Michael Hohn, acting director of the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey; Susan Pierce, director, Historic Preservation; and Fredrick Armstrong, director, Archives and History, and secretary for the commission. Voting members absent were Michael Shock, president, West Virginia Historical Society, and Marjorie Zirk. Chairman Conte then had guests introduce themselves.
Chairman Conte stated that Ms. Stalnaker had requested an addition to the agenda regarding the appointment status of members and that he was placing this under new business, if there were no objections, to which there were none.
Chairman Conte asked if there were any changes or comments to the minutes of the 7 October meeting and then called on a motion to approve them as distributed. Dr. Ledbetter so moved; Ms. Stalnaker provided the second. Motion passed.
There was no commissioner’s report. Ms. Brennan questioned the absence of a Museums Section report. Mr. Armstrong stated it had been distributed (copy attached to official minutes) and apologized for his failure to mail it out in advance of the meeting. Ginny Painter, in the absence of a director, had made it available and he stated that her reports to the Senate and House Finance Committee budget hearings had included the same information. He noted the resignation of Gerry Reilly at WVIH. Ms. Brennan expressed her concern that no one was present to answer questions, to which Mr. Armstrong reported that Ms. Painter was unable to attend. She served in several capacities: deputy commissioner, interim director of the Museums Section, and director of Communications. As deputy commissioner, she had presented the agency budget to the legislature. He stated the budget was a little better than status quo, but did not include additional funds for the museum. It did provide additional funds - two hundred thousand dollars - for improvements and maintenance at the sites, the reallocation of funds from one budget area to another, Fairs and Festivals, and the restoration of some funds to the Competitive Arts grants. There was one improvement level package which would provide funds to make the corrections and additions to the names on the Veterans Memorial. In reply to Ms. Baxter, he stated the budget bill, SB 125, was available as a public document, on-line or in hard copy, through the legislature, and the budget office has the full, three-volume document. He noted the process of locating the various funding sources to identify the total budget. Ms. Baxter stated her interest was only in the agency budget and asked if it included all the improvement levels requested. It was noted that staff was to support the governor’s budget, but that there were agency requests which were not included. Dr. Ledbetter inquired of strategy for the museum to obtain the additional funds needed. Mr. Armstrong explained that the governor and first lady had come over and met with those involved and there was to be another meeting with the first lady next week on how to move forward. Delegate Eustace Frederick had requested the same in the hearing yesterday, but no additional details were made available. He noted work was still being conducted on the bid package and the purchasing process and time table this would require once funding for all aspects of the project were identified. There were still outstanding issues regarding adaptions and renovations to other areas of the building for possible related projects, parking for accessibility of anticipated increased visitation, and increased staffing, maintenance, and technology needs of the new museum. In reply to Dr. Ledbetter, he stated there were funds available for contracting, but they were insufficient to meet the current museum plan and these outstanding issues. Dr. Conte thanked Mr. Armstrong for his efforts to respond to the museum questions.
Ms. Brennan noted her frustration was with the failure to receive the report in advance and not having those directly involved with the project available to report and respond to the interest and questions of the commission in this important and troubled project. Mr. Armstrong again apologized for his failure and stated they could take it up later, but he would not be able to provide much additional information. He volunteered to take questions back and see that answers were provided. Mr. Stowell expressed his frustration with the failure of the commission to be included, and referenced previous letters and promises of inclusion.
Chairman Conte called on Ms. Pierce for the Historic Preservation report. She noted that a copy had been distributed ( copy attached to official minutes) and asked members to follow it as she reported. The office had completed the Federal End-of-Year Report for 2005 and filed the 2006 application which included the Work Program approved by the commission at the October meeting. The 2006 federal allocation had been received in two parts for a total of $559,022. They were working on filling staff vacancies, but current administrative personnel policy allows entry level hiring only. Candidates who have qualifications are unwilling to accept this; although an individual interested in a position remains interested and continues to attempt to make personal changes. The education and planning position was vacant and the Grave Creek curator position, advertised nationally with interested candidates added to register, was requiring more time because staff involved had been ill. Ryan Burns left the review and compliance position to take a museum position, but continues to work some hours to assist in this program area. At Grave Creek museum, now under Historic Preservation in the agency, Susan Yoho is working on arranging for a storage building on the grounds due to the sale of a staff house and garage where they had stored equipment. This past week, the newly installed skylight was vandalized by a gun shot. Staff is working on a replacement exhibit in the museum. Erin Riebe and Alan Rowe are meeting with DOH and consultants to start the bridge survey and eligibility assessment project funded by a T-21 Transportation Enhancement grant. This represents the first two phases and a grant application was submitted for a third phase this month. Eleven nominations to be presented later on the agenda reflect staff work on the National Register program. The report provides statistics for the 106 Review program for the four months since the last meeting, with a couple of projects highlighted. The tax credit numbers listed on the report have an R for resident and C for commercial. Education and outreach projects include the publication and mailing of the calendar, Archaeology Month activities, work with Preservation Alliance, Main Street and others to co-sponsor a fairly large scale preservation conference in Charleston in May. Charleston, SC Mayor Riley is scheduled to be the keynote speaker. Ms. Pierce reported on developing an RFP for a comprehensive plan for the Eastern Panhandle. Staff held several meetings in the counties in the area to gather information and also worked with Senator Unger, the National Trust, and the Berkeley County Farmland Protection Board to come up with an alternative solution for Boydville, which was subsequently purchased by the Farmland Protection Board..Chris Knorr has been conducting various site visits to monitor Development Grants. Survey and Planning Grants will be presented later today.
Regarding the two “Save America’s Treasures” projects, a consultant bid on the construction project for the addition at Grave Creek for the curation facility, but then withdrew his bid. Staff is working with Purchasing to re-advertise. On the Weston project, the Task Force met several times in the fall but DHHR is interested in selling the site. A letter has been sent to the National Park Service suspending the project and no further work will be taking place. The GIS project now has some information posted on the West Virginia University Web site (address listed on her report), which has National Register sites, identified on the map. Work continues in the office to map architectural survey and archaeology sites and these will be sent to add. The archaeology sites will be listed with password protection so as to restrict access to location information. Application has been made for an Enhancement Grant for funding to continue the development of the Web site, connecting the map information to the databases of information, which the office would maintain. Staff is working with the agency web master to put National Register material in PDF files on the agency Web site. During the past four months, staff conducted between forty and fifty site visits.
In reply to Dr. Walker, Ms. Pierce explained that the archaeology site locations would be password protected. In reply to Dr. Gozdzik’s question about the Eastern Panhandle public meetings, Ms. Pierce stated these were to develop the contents of what the HP plan would be. She offered to make the RFP available to those interested.
Ms. Pierce noted that the governor’s budget did provide an increase of $900.00 and that Weston was not on the market yet, but it is understood that DHHR wants to get out of maintaining the property. Ms. Stalnaker spoke to some of the background, the farm property that is with the hospital, which has deed stipulations that will require legislation to clear it for sale. If done during the regular session, it will be advertised for public sale and the process will go forward. It is understood that DHHR will repay the public funds so that there would be no restrictions on what the new property owner could do.
Chairman Conte referred to Mr. Armstrong for the Archives and History report, which he noted had been passed out in advance. Mr. Armstrong referred to the monthly reports. He noted the centennial year observance activities were over and staff was pleased, especially with the research demands of “This Day in West Virginia History.” The next issue of West Virginia History will actually be the last act in the observance, as it will address the history and programs of the past with some correlation to those of the present - collecting, preserving and making history accessible, just in different formats. He reported on the Vital Research Records on the Web site; the closure of the Archives Library for one week for the re-carpeting project during early January; and work on highway historical markers, some with the manufacturer, some with the sponsors, and some which will be presented later in the meeting. It was also noted that there were some problems with maintaining markers, which resulted in a newspaper article, followed by others statewide, which he hopes will be noted by those reviewing the Transportation Enhancement grant application re-submitted again this year. Mr. Armstrong noted that he had reported on the Veterans Memorial when he spoke about the budget earlier.
The records management and preservation program for counties and its grant program were very demanding of his and Denise Ferguson’s time. Twenty-five grants were submitted for fiscal 2006-07 funding, of which one did not qualify. The board had requests for more than $800,000 and $330,000 available to award. Two were funded at the full request and letters for partial funding went out to 22 within the last two weeks. In the first round, a total of 22 were wrapped up, about 18 successfully and others marginally. Seventeen in the second round are progressing with three complete and nine others making expected progress. The program appears to be working, but demands are greater than resources. He then reported on processing work, noting some preliminary work on the Randolph Papers, with plans for lighting and shelving in preparation, as this was necessary before moving the collection. The Martens and Hicks architectural drawings collection processing was now completed. He concluded his remarks with an announcement on the April 1 Hoot Owl evening in the library and the joint genealogy conference with Mining Your History Foundation, the Virginia Genealogical Society and the Greenbrier Historical Society to be held in Lewisburg either the last weekend in October or first in November. The theme would be “Shared Records and Families Across the Border”.
Chairman Conte called on Chad Proudfoot, vice chairman and acting chair in the absence of a commissioner of Culture and History, to address the work of the Capitol Building Commission. Mr. Proudfoot informed member that the CBC received no funding and depended on the Division of Culture and History for support. Its primary purpose was to serve in a capacity similar to the local landmarks commission for the Capitol Complex - to review and consider any and all physical changes. The commission fails to have enforcement authority. He stated he is attending today’s meeting to share the purpose of the CBC. He then shared some of the recent projects with which they are involved. The capitol dome, which followed the original plans of Cass Gilbert, came in under the projected five million dollar budget. The CBC agreed to a redo of the Senate Education Office area, which would remove 1970s paneling and renovate using plans prepared by Chris Knorr. David Marshall, member of the commission, had worked with the Supreme Court on a project to restore the chairs. The CBC, after some misrepresentations regarding approvals of changes for the museum project, had addressed their concerns with the agency after the addition of the escalators, and requested that it be brought back for review and that they be kept informed thereafter. He noted they had approved the removal of three dead trees and the planting of a memorial tree for Paul Morris, a long-serving member of the State Board of Education. After mentioning several other projects, he commented on the major renovation project on the Governor’s Mansion living quarters and third and fourth floors. As these were not public areas, there were no concerns. They has also reviewed and approved small renovations to the Governor’s Office, a ceiling and a few other minor projects. He briefly commented on other recent agenda items - the Library Commission project to remove a wall to expand a conference room, the proposed Kanawha Boulevard changes, and the House project to repair and repaint the House Chamber, which he proudly stated was returning the colors and decorations to the original Cass Gilbert design. He concluded his report with a review of the Legislative Performance Audit, which revealed improvements, but left room for more during the next three years when the CBC would be reviewed again. As a result of the audit, legislation had been introduced to address some of the audit’s concerns, and if it did not move during the session, it would be given additional study during interims. At the conclusion of his report, in reply to a question from Mr. Stowell, he stated the CBC had no contact with the WV State Museum Board.
Chairman Conte called on Ms. Pierce to report on the status of the Certified Preservation District. She announced the Procedural Rules were approved, an application created, and a brochure printed. The program is underway.
Chairman Conte called on Ms. Stalnaker to report on History Day 2006. She explained she had encountered personal problems and that Mr. Armstrong had been taking care of many of the details. They had not received word on the funding request to the Friends of Culture and History. Nominations for History Heroes and Displays had been submitted and the former were being reviewed and considered by the sponsors. Problems continued to arise and the committee of sponsors would have to meet and resolve these if the program was to continue. In the discussion regarding some problems with the nomination process and duplication of submissions, Mr. Armstrong reported that most of the issues had been resolved and there would be 37 or 38 History Heroes and 55 displays. Ms. Stalnaker stressed the need to tighten and adhere to guidelines. Mr. Armstrong stated that under New Business the commission needed to make a decision for next year if a date was to be secured.
Chairman Conte called on Ms. Pierce to provide a status report on the Blair Mountain Nomination. She noted that everyone should have received a complete copy of the return from the Keeper. Mr. Rowe had discussed the comments on the return with Beth Savage at the National Park Service and submitted a letter. Copies of all were distributed. (copies attached to official minutes). The nomination is being worked on by the sponsor and there is nothing additional to report. Ms. Stalnaker asked about the Order for Dismissal document they had received and Ms. Pierce stated that this was to be discussed as the last item on the agenda.
Chairman Conte moved to New Business and called on Ms. Pierce to present the Survey and Planning Grants. She referred members to the package of grant summaries and spreadsheet of the details on the projects mailed in advance. These show project name, location, sponsor, proposed funding and match, and total project cost. The match this year was 80/20, with HP providing 80 percent. She reported requests for more than $108,000 from Certified Local Government applications and HP is obliged to set 10 percent of the annual federal appropriation ($550,000) for the CLGs. HP is requesting approval for the grants totaling $65,521, because there was an increase in the number of good projects and the staff was challenged to fund the top scoring projects at this level. The majority of the funds were for survey and National Register projects. They had to fund a percentage in each activity area and went above in an effort to give an adequate amount to enable sponsors to undertake the projects.
In reply to Ms. Stalnaker, Ms. Pierce explained the scoring is based on the Annual Work Program and the appropriateness of the activity to meet its goals. She cited scoring criteria examples in the application, the threat to the resource, and also the practical nature of the project.
In reply to Ms. Baxter, Ms. Pierce explained that they were giving out more funds, but some of the requests were being recommended for partial funding. In reply to Mr. Tenney, Ms. Pierce explained that they may not be able to do the total project, or may have to reduce the project or use this funding to start, to secure additional funding elsewhere, or to postpone aspects of the project for another year. The partially funded projects would require re-design.
Ms. Pierce requested a motion to allow staff to make adjustments in the funding levels if projects fail to undertake and use the funds or to expend all the funds and to reallocate to other projects on the list which can expend the funds. Dr. Arnett made a motion to approve the Survey and Planning Grants as recommended by the staff, with the understanding that unexpended funds from a grant unable to use them may be moved to another on the list recommended for funding, which may be able to use them. Ms. Stalnaker provided the second. Motion passed.
Chairman Conte called on Mr. Rowe for the National Register nominations. Ms. Riebe presented the first nomination, the Sophia Historic District, Main Street between Polk Street and Riffe Street, in Raleigh County under Criterion A, Commerce, and Criterion C, Architecture, with the period of significance being ca. 1925-56. Prior to the presentation, she distributed copies of a letter of opposition from a property owner and another of support, including some historic images of buildings (copies attached to official minutes). Ms. Joellen Kerr discussed the role of her University of Charleston historic preservation class in researching and preparing the nomination. In response to Dr. Bailey’s question on which were the properties involved in the property owner objection, Ms. Riebe stated she did not know and would have to consult the map back in the office to be able to answer. Ms. Kerr stated she did not remember this property owner and that everyone they met while researching and conducting the inventory was enthusiastic in support. Dr. Bailey stated that if it was at one end of the district it would be easy to exclude it, to which Ms. Riebe explained that the National Register regulations do not allow changes in the boundaries to avoid objections. The boundaries are drawn according to the resources and the criteria, and maintain the district’s integrity. After identifying the properties involved in the objection as probably numbers 118 and 119, it was stated that this was the only objection out of some forty property owners. Dr. Ledbetter inquired as to how the office insured itself that the owners received a copy of the letter. Mr. Rowe stated that they do not require certified letters of any type and that the tax records at the county courthouse are the source used to identify property owners and they do their best to contact the listed taxpayer. Ms. Pierce stated that this district nomination falls in the category that does not require published notification because of the number of owners. Only one letter mailed was returned. The district nomination was discussed in the focus groups. A letter had been sent to the property owner acknowledging receipt of her objections and explaining what the designation did and did not do for the property in the district. Dr. Bailey asked if the office could guarantee that 51 percent of the people in the district are in favor of the district designation. Ms. Riebe stated there was no way to guarantee this, to which Dr. Bailey asked how they were able to state that a majority favor the nomination. Ms. Riebe replied that they followed the guidelines and regulations for informing property owners, which resulted in only one objection. Dr. Ledbetter stated that the issue is whether the actual property owners received the notification. Ms. Kerr stated that from the ground up there was interest in the nomination and this was the reason her class took on the project. In reply to Mr. Tenney’s question, they stated they did not have a record of those property owners who attended and were interested. Ms. Stalnaker stated she did not have a problem with the process being followed as described. Dr. Walker stated she hoped that everyone on the commission does not begin to “cower” when they have a multiple property owner nomination to consider. Blair Mountain was different from the usual process. It was the job of members, that if people had gone forward with what the process requires and have no concrete objections, to give it fair, objective consideration. Dr. Ledbetter stated he had no problems with this nomination, given the explanation, but admitted that he might be looking ahead to the Charleston nomination. Ms. Riebe stated she appreciated the comments and welcomed the input and suggestions on how the process might be improved. She then stated that members were being asked to vote whether this nomination meets the criteria and it is the Keeper’s responsibility to decide whether the process was done correctly. Dr. Arnett stated, “We just vote on the merits of the nomination.” Ms. Pierce stated staff was responsible for meeting CFR 60 and it explains how to go about the notification process and how to count owner objections. Dr. Bailey stated he felt it was a sensitive concern to him as a property owner and that he would continue to be respective of that for others. In the case of the upcoming district, he had an example to cite for lack of notification. He recommended keeping a record of those who attended meetings and opined that sending out certified letters was not too expensive when dealing with people’s property. Ms. Pierce asked that the commission allow its attorney, Ms. Kate Campbell, to comment on the discussion. Ms. Campbell stated the regulations do not require the mailing of certified letters and that a lot of people do not like to go pick up certified mail, so why do it?
Chairman Conte asked if there was interest in a motion to approve the Sophia Historic District. Dr. Walker moved to approve the “charmingly written” nomination. Dr. Hulse provided the second and Chairman Conte called for a vote on the motion. Motion passed with all votes recorded in the affirmative.
The next nomination, presented by David Taylor, was the Wees Historic District, bounded by Randolph and South Avenues, Sycamore Street, Diamond Street, and Boundary and Terrace Avenues in Elkins, Randolph County, under Criterion A, Community Planning and Development, Criterion B, Entertainment/Recreation, and Criterion C, Architecture, with the period of significance being 1890 to ca. 1955. Following favorable comments by Ms. Stalnaker and Ms. Baxter, Dr. Ledbetter moved to approve the nomination. Dr. Gozdzik provided the second and motion passed with all voting in the affirmative.
Mr. Taylor then presented the Elmwood-on-the-Opequon property located in the Kearneysville Vicinity, Jefferson County, under Criterion A for Agriculture and Criterion C for Architecture, with the period of significance being ca. 1830 to 1956. The property owners, the Leathers, were present and they had initiated the nomination, rather than the local landmarks commission. Following the presentation, Dr. Hulse moved to approve the nomination and Ms. Stalnaker provided the second. Motion passed.
Mr. Taylor then presented the John Evans House on Winchester Avenue, Martinsburg, Berkeley County, under Criterion A, Exploration/Settlement, and Criterion C, Architecture, with the period of significance being ca. 1756 to ca. 1942. Mr. Stowell speculated that the second floor doorway was a window opening originally and Mr. Taylor agreed. Ms. Stalnaker moved to approve the nomination and Mr. Stowell provided the second. Motion passed.
Mr. Taylor then presented the Marlowe Consolidated School in the Marlowe area of Berkeley County under Criterion A for Education, with the period of significance being 1922-56. The property is owned by the county board of education. In reply to a question, the commission was informed that there was an active alumni group and the board had contacted the office to inquire of the process for listing. Dr. Arnett made a motion to approve the nomination and Dr. Ledbetter provided the second. Motion passed.
Mr. Taylor presented the Miller Tavern and Farm located on the Berkeley-Jefferson County line, primarily in Berkeley, under Criterion A for Agriculture and Commerce and Criterion C for Architecture, with the period of significance being ca. 1813 to ca. 1900. After comments on the need to reference the map to the nomination, the absence of account records or other on the tavern, and the condition of one of the houses, Mr. Stowell moved to approve the nomination and Dr. Walker provided the second. Motion passed with all voting in the affirmative.
Mr. Taylor presented the Newcomer Mansion, Martinsburg area, Berkeley County, under Criterion A for Exploration/Settlement and Criterion C for Architecture, with the period of significance being ca. 1820 to1940. After comments on the log addition and chimney, Mr. Tenney moved to approve the nomination; Mr. Stowell provided the second. Motion passed.
The next nomination presented by Mr. Taylor was the Scrabble Historic District, located on the Berkeley-Jefferson County line, under Criterion C for Architecture, with the period of significance being ca. 1811 to ca. 1950. Mr. Taylor stated that when he was preparing the nomination, the owner had objected to the inclusion of the farm, but the property was not being nominated under agriculture as the boundary of the property being nominated extended to the back of the structures. Dr. Ledbetter moved to approve the nomination and Ms. Stalnaker provided the second. Motion passed.
As lunch had arrived earlier, Chairman Conte declared a short recess at noon to enable members to get their lunch and to return to proceed with the meeting as they ate. At 12:25 he called on Mr. Taylor to present the next nomination, the Snodgrass Tavern (Boundary Increase) located just outside the town of Hedgesville, Berkeley County, under Criterion A for Agriculture and Exploration/Settlement and Criterion C for Architecture, with the period of significance being ca. 1742 to ca. 1900. The nomination was initiated by the property owner, not the landmarks commission. Mr. Stowell spoke favorably of the nomination and moved that it be approved. Dr. Walker provided the necessary second and all voted in the affirmative.
Mr. Taylor then presented the Strode-Morrison-Tabler House and Farm in the Hedgesville area, Berkeley County, under Criterion A for Exploration/Settlement and Agriculture and Criterion C for Architecture, with the period of significance being ca. 1752 to ca. 1950. Following a discussion on the growth and expansion of the house, Dr. Walker moved to approve the nomination and Mr. Tenney provided the necessary second. Motion passed.
After members complimented Mr. Taylor on his presentations, Chairman Conte called on Ms. Riebe to present the Downtown Charleston Historic District, roughly bounded by Washington Street East, Leon Sullivan Way, Kanawha Boulevard and Summers Street, under Criterion A for Commerce and Criterion C for Architecture, with the period of significance being ca. 1877-1956. Prior to her presentation, she distributed a number of letters of support and opposition to the nomination (copies attached to official minutes). She noted that the National Park Service had counseled that with the extended time, and so many changes since the district was previously nominated, it should be presented as a new nomination. The notification process was the same as a new nomination. Ms. Susan Salisbury, Charleston Area Alliance, sent out some 140 invitations to all known property owners and city council for a meeting held on September 16, 2005. About twenty people showed up, including three council members. Five additional meetings and discussions were held through the remainder of the year. On 21 or 23 December, the office published the notification in the Charleston Gazette and Daily Mail, which is all the office was required to do, but also sent out notices to addresses provided, as well as to some additional addresses they had developed. These were sent out on 21 and 29 December to all identified property owners. Dr. Bailey questioned why the Kanawha County Public Library failed to receive a notification and Ms. Riebe stated they had complied with the requirement to publish a legal notification in one newspaper at least thirty days and not more than seventy-five days before presentation. Dr. Bailey stated the reason he had inquired is because he is on the Library Board and the first he was aware of it was the meeting notice. He did not feel the Board would be opposed, but it demonstrates the failure of the notification process. He stated that he would have to abstain and when asked if this was because he was a Library Board member, he stated that there were two reasons, neither of which he had to divulge. He excused himself from the meeting. Ms. Salisbury, in the audience, spoke up and stated she had a list of those whose addresses were used and the Kanawha County Public Library was on it. Members were then given an opportunity to review the letters supporting and objecting to the nomination. Ms. Pierce asked Mr. Rowe if the Library, as a public entity, could vote, to which Mr. Rowe replied, “No.” Ms. Salisbury, representing the Charleston Area Alliance, was then granted time to address the commission. After complimenting the HP staff for their work and support, she passed an aerial map around showing the district and then provided some background on the origins of the nomination. The mayor, city council members and some of the property owners had been involved. There was interest in the tax credit benefits from a district listing. She described the efforts of the 16 September 2005 meeting to provide information on a district listing and referred to a list of those who had attended meetings. She reviewed the background on the Charleston City Council resolution opposing the nomination and that it had been misunderstood by most of those who voted in favor of it at the time. Since then, most have reversed on this position as the listing and what it means has been explained. She concluded her remarks and Chairman Conte inquired what the Downtown Village District was, the area indicated in yellow on the map. She explained that it was an area which required design review to go through the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority under an ordinance passed by City Council. Ms. Brennan asked if this could be expanded if the nomination goes through. Ms. Salisbury stated that the biggest objection was that they would lose their ten percent pre-1936 credit if they are in a downtown historic district. Those opposing stated they can not access the historic tax credit and it is not worth it to them to try to qualify for the 30 percent available if a historic district property.
Lawrence Jones requested permission to address the commission on behalf of property he represented in the proposed district. The property is the Scottish Rite headquarters, 406 Capitol Street, the former armory. He described the building and stated their support of the nomination, adding that they did not, but are willing to, submit a letter.
Dr. Ledbetter inquired if there was to be an update on the position of Mayor Jones. Ms. Pierce stated that she has gone through his points. His primary concern, when she spoke to him on the phone, regarded the issue in the third “Whereas” clause about the riverfront development plans and how the district listing would invoke the Section 106 review process. She added that she has tried to explain to the mayor that they would be reviewing regardless of the outcome of the nomination and the Boulevard was not included in the nomination, even as a contributing resource. The city has gone through a study to make changes to the Boulevard and they would be reviewing these anyway. In their second conversation, Mayor Jones stated he had other things to do and that he would have to take her word for it. Dr. Ledbetter stated he was looking for caution and awareness. Council has not withdrawn its resolution opposing the submission of the district for listing and the mayor has not openly reversed. Ms. Riebe stated that it was the property owners who wanted it because of the tax credits. There is $2.2 million to be lost with just two property owners. In reply to Ms. Brennan’s question as to addressing City Council, Ms. Salisbury stated that the opportunity to address council was very limited. Ms. Pierce stated she would be happy to address them, but only if invited. Ms. Riebe explained that a number failed to understand what they were voting on and some have reversed. Dr. Ledbetter moved to approve the nomination. Dr. Arnett provided the required second. There being no further discussion, Motion passed with all voting in the affirmative. Dr. Bailey, having abstained, returned to the meeting.
As this concluded the presentation of the National Register nominations, members were asked to pass their voting sheets in to the secretary (copies attached to official minutes).
Chairman Conte called on Mr. Armstrong to present the new marker requests (copies attached to official minutes). He directed members to the information sent out in advance of the meeting on The Niagara Movement in Jefferson County, the Gravel Hill Academy and Capt. John Porter/Chelsea China Company in Hancock County. He explained that these were privately sponsored marker requests. After providing a brief description and explanation on each, Dr. Bailey moved to approve the three marker requests and Dr. Arnett provided the necessary second. Motion passed.
Mr. Armstrong then inquired of the interest of the commission to consider three Wayne County Revolutionary War Veterans markers, which did not arrive in time to be mailed. The sponsor had requested that he make an effort to have the commission consider, which he was requesting now. He had copies of the information which he could distribute, if members were interested in considering. It was the consensus of members that they would not consider making an exception to the rules for considering action items without the required advance mailing.
Chairman Conte took up the appointment of a nominating committee to present a slate of officers to stand for election at the June meeting. After some discussion, Ms. Stalnaker and Dr. Gozdzik agreed to serve and were appointed to be the nominating committee. Mr. Armstrong stated he would do his best to inform the committee of any appointments to the commission.
Following appointment of a Nominating Committee and discussion of the challenge of nominating members whose term would not have expired, which was to be a point of discussion later on the Agenda after the Blair Mountain Nomination litigation item, Chairman Conte declared that they would now take up the Blair Mountain litigation. He noted the presence of the commission’s appointed counsel from the Attorney General’s Office, Ms. Kate Campbell, and introduced her. He stated some members had expressed an interest in going into executive session to discuss the Jackson Kelly proposed Stipulation and Agreed Order of Dismissal, which members had received in advance (copy attached to official minutes). Ms. Campbell advised that the commission would be allowed to go into executive session under the provisions of the state’s “Open Meetings Act,” and Attorney-Client consultations. She stated this would require a formal motion and a majority vote of approval under the provisions of this act to recess and enter into executive session for discussion of the proposed settlement with counsel. If this action was taken, the remaining members of the public would have to remove themselves from the meeting. Chairman Conte asked if there was interest in going into executive session and Dr. Gozdzik moved that the commission go into executive session to have Ms. Campbell explain the proposed dismissal document and to respond to questions so as to understand what was in their best interest in the suit and its impact on the Blair Mountain nomination. Dr. Arnett provided the second. As there appeared to be no discussion, Chairman Conte called for a vote on the motion. All votes were cast in favor of the motion and the Chairman declared the motion passed and that the commission was now in executive session. The two remaining members of the public left the room.
Chairman Conte reconvened the meeting following the executive session and asked what the commission’s interest was in considering accepting or rejecting the Petitioners/Appellants Order of Dismissal. Dr. Bailey referred to the Settlement Agreement and Agreed Order of Dismissal prepared by Ms. Kate Campbell, representing the commission, (copy attached to official minutes) and moved that she be authorized to pursue settlement and dismissal with the Petitioners, along the lines of this document, with some minor revisions, corrections, and points of clarification identified during the discussion of it; without any onus of improper action, blame or fault on the commission for its action or implied reversal of its action on the nomination on May 6, 2005; and if this is rejected by the Petitioners or differences are substantive, the revised Settlement Agreement and Agreed Order of Dismissal will be brought back to the commission in a special meeting, possibly conducted in teleconference to consider to accept or reject. Mr. Tenney seconded the motion. Chairman Conte called for a vote on the motion. Motion passed with all members voting in favor. Following this action, Dr. Hohn inquired as to the inclusion of members in this action if they were not present at the May 6, 2005, meeting, and/or who did not have voting rights on the nomination. Ms. Campbell stated she understood this and a number of other issues would be addressed if this settlement and dismissal action failed and the case moved forward.
Chairman Conte then called members’ attention to the item added to the agenda, that being interest in addressing a formal letter to the governor for action on appointments or reappointments to the commission, as there are vacancies and two-thirds of the members serving were doing so on expired terms. After some discussion, it was decided to postpone further consideration until the next meeting.
Chairman Conte then inquired of the commission’s interest in sponsoring another History Day. After a brief discussion of some of the areas needing attention and the need of the sponsors to meet and resolve these, members expressed interest in sponsoring History Day for 2007. Chairman Conte directed Mr. Armstrong to contact the Speaker’s Office and make the arrangements to reserve a date for next year.
Chairman Conte inquired of members as to the next meeting dates and places. The June meeting was set for Parkersburg, and after some discussion, it was agreed to meet on Friday, 2 June. It was then agreed to hold the fall meeting in Charleston, with Friday, 13 October, to be the first date and if there were conflicts with this date, to try for 29 September. Several locations were discussed, but the final site was left open.
There being no additional business to bring before the commission, Chairman Conte asked for a motion to adjourn. Ms. Stalnaker and Dr. Gozdzik simultaneously moved to adjourn and Chairman Conte declared the meeting adjourned at 2:40 p.m.
Fredrick H. Armstrong
Archives and History Commission