Village's Landmark Status on 'Watch'
Any alterations made to the Pinehurst Village Green could affect the village's status as a National Historic Landmark, according to the National Park Service.
Jody Cook, program manager for the National Historic Landmarks Program for the Southeast Region of the National Park Service, confirmed Tuesday that the Pinehurst Historic District has been designated as a "priority 2" or "watch" designation since 2006, when plans to construct the new roundabout were first discussed.
Cook was notified last week that the roundabout construction had been completed and that there was talk of potentially making changes to the Village Green.
"I got a call last week from a concerned citizen with respect to work in the National Landmark District that could adversely affect the character of the landmark," she said. "There have been issues with the Pinehurst district and different projects [in the past]. This isn't anything really new."
The "watch" designation is given to landmarks "that face impending actions or circumstances that likely will cause a loss of integrity." There are two other categories -- "satisfactory" or "priority 3," which indicates no threat, and "threatened" or "priority 1," which indicates a landmark has suffered, or is in imminent danger of, a severe loss of integrity.
Cook, who is responsible for monitoring more than 400 landmarks across the Southeast, said she hasn't had a chance to review the details about the Village Green plan yet. She said she expects to receive more information soon.
The idea to return the Village Green to its original concept as a common lawn area for the community is rooted in the village's 2003 Comprehensive Long-Range Plan. A group of Pinehurst residents made a presentation to the Village Council in December about restoring the Village Green.
The presentation showed an open space in the middle of the oval, which would include multiple pathways, park benches and a gazebo. This community gathering space would occupy about 15 percent of the Green, which is currently covered with pine trees.
The Village Council created a six-member study commission in January to examine the possibility of such a plan. It is charged with determining if enhancements to the Village Green are desirable, and if so, what types of enhancements should be made.
No formal recommendations are expected from the commission until May. A survey for residents has been posted on the village Web site to assist the commission in its research. If a plan is recommended, the Village Council would ultimately approve or reject it.
Village Manager Andy Wilkison, who also sits on the study commission, said the Historic District's Landmark status would be a major factor in the commission's recommendations and the council's action.
"I think any impact [on the village's Landmark status] caused by any changes to the Village Green is something the village would take very seriously," he said. "It's important that the study commission look into this and it ought to be reflective in any decision it makes."
Originally, the Village Green was a lawn area, but the Tufts family had a difficult time maintaining the grass. Later, the lawn was replaced with the pine forest that remains today.
Pinehurst was granted National Historic Landmark status in 1996 because of its significant role in American golf history. Cook said that the area has a "period of significance" from 1895 through 1948, and just because the lawn concept was the original plan doesn't make it OK.
"Things change and other developments happen," she said. "Just because something that happened at the beginning doesn't mean that something later isn't significant."
Cook said it would be up to the village to prove that the changes wouldn't be detrimental to the integrity of the district. If it didn't, Cook said that the district's status could be changed to "threatened," which could jeopardize its designation as a Historic Landmark.
"I have the authority to make that decision," she said.
Contact John Krahnert III at 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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