Letter to the Editor

Save the HDC

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

This November on our ballot will be an initiative to dissolve the Historic District Commission. If this happens, we will lose millions in grants, we will lose our certified local government, along with Main Street standings, again millions in grants gone. It is true our city will remain a historic district but with no one to govern it. The preservation department in Little Rock will oversee each application. Can you imagine the wait or being able to hire a contractor to do a job while you wait to be approved? Go talk to the leaders in Bentonville as they anguish over how to save what little is left of their historic properties. They didnít have a historic district or commission to stop the demolitions and the new fancy condos that were built. Imagine in a couple of years when we start to look like Branson, complete with King Kong hanging off the Flatiron building. Think about McMansions dotting our historic loop. The chain stores and eateries allowed to flourish. If you want all of this, vote to abolish the HDC.

The HDC is comprised of volunteers who are extensively trained and educated by the federal government. In the 14 years I served on the HDC I had hundreds of hours of conferences, training and seminars all over the country and many in our own town. Did I make mistakes? Yes! Did I learn from those mistakes? Yes. The many members I served with over the years were thoughtful, ethical and believed in their city!

When you think the HDC is contentious, arbitrary remember they oversee over 500 applications a year; they turn down less than 10. Of those 10 they work to come up with solutions. In fact in the last three years they have only turned down six applications. Does that sound arbitrary?

This petition was started by a man who dissatisfied by the ruling of the HDC. The ruling was to keep his house a contributing historic property. He was turned down twice. It was explained twice to him the reasons in a respectful, professional way why he was being denied. His contractor stood at the microphone and said he could do the work at midnight and we would never know. The applicant wagged his finger at us telling us how disappointed he was in us. We were just doing our job. He sued us, lost twice in court. Our prosecuting attorney called him selfish to all the people who followed our rulings, who wanted to be part and preserve our historic district. The judge agreed! The petition was started by this man whose legal address was Dallas, Texas. Only when he decided since he lost in court did he finally register that he lived in Eureka Springs. That way he could start a petition to destroy our historic district. He has been asked to join the HDC to be a part of solution. But of course, in my opinion, he didnít want to be part of that.