Council Considers Options on Village Center Response
Village of Pinehurst officials are still considering their options on what to do a week after the National Park Service canceled a meeting to discuss proposed changes to the Village Center.
Village Manager Andy Wilkison said the village has held internal discussions but had not contacted the Park Service about a June 22 letter it sent to the Village Council.
"We are not actively moving forward with the project until we get this ironed out," said Village Manager Andy Wilkison.
In that letter, a Park Service representative said the meeting originally scheduled for June 30 would be "premature" and that it will be postponed until the village can provide documentation comparable to two examples it provided with the letter. The two documents enclosed were the Portsmouth Village Cultural Landscape Report and Moses H. Cone Memorial Park Cultural Landscape Report.
A previous letter from the Park Service encouraged the village to create a cultural landscape report (CLR) and urged that the current proposed changes be addressed in that document.
Wilkison said the village has not decided whether or not to create a cultural landscape report.
He likened a report to the village's application for National Historic Landmark status that was submitted in 1995.
"When you lay that next to the CLR, it's almost identical in detail and thoroughness and description of environments," Wilkison said.
Changes to the Traffic Circle, the new roundabout and brick sidewalks are among the changes to the historic district that have occurred since the application for landmark status was created.
He said he is hopeful that a solution can be worked out that is satisfactory to both the Park Service and the village.
The conceptual plan for the Village Center calls for a donation of land for the expansion of the Given Memorial Library and Tufts Archives as well as the relocation of the sand parking lot and some downtown streetscaping.
The Village Center encompasses the Village Green, which is in the historic district.
The district was granted National Historic Landmark Status in 1995. In recent years, the Park Service has communicated to the village that recent and proposed changes to the Village Green could damage the district and possibly cause the federal agency to revoke the landmark status.
The most recent letter states that a panel of experts reviewed the proposal submitted by the village staff and determined that, "with the exception of the addition of the Given Memorial Library expansion, your recent submission does not differ substantively from the preliminary plans the village of Pinehurst had requested the NPS review earlier this year."
The letter adds that the materials "do not evince a thorough understanding of the district cultural landscape, nor of comprehensive preservation planning and, consequently, do not provide the necessary analysis of the impact of the proposed changes to the Green on the integrity of the district's historic resources."
Council member Mark Parson, a proponent of the conceptual plan, called the letter "very harsh."
"Especially when we've tried to keep them in the loop and work with them," he said.
The letter also reiterates the Park Service's concern that the proposed expansions on the Village Green "represent continuation of the incremental erosion of its essential character as the central open space in the district's landscape."
Wilkison said at some point the village would be contacting the Park Service, likely in writing, to further discuss the matter and gather input.
"We first want to cross this bridge with the National Park Service," he said, "and we want to cross it arm in arm."
Contact Tom Embrey at email@example.com.
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