Village Selects Virginia Firm as Historic Consultant
By Tom Embrey
In a close vote, the Pinehurst Village Council selected a Charlottesville, Va., firm to serve as a historic preservation consultant.
The council voted 3-2 Tuesday to select John Milner and Associates after interviewing representatives of two finalists earlier in the day. The firm was selected over a local company that has worked on the village's behalf in the past, Richard Mandell Landscape Architecture in Southern Pines.
After selecting Milner and Associates, the council authorized Village Manager Andy Wilkison to negotiate a contract with the firm.
Some of the projects the firm likely will be consulting on are the proposed enhancements to the downtown, which include street-scape and parking improvements.
Milner and Associates has extensive work in the historic preservation field. Mandell's firm represented the village in January at a meeting in Atlanta with the National Park Service (NPS) to discuss a variety of historic preservation topics.
The decision to select Milner and Associates came after a lengthy discussion, much of it centering around whether it was better to select a bigger, more experienced firm, like Milner, versus a local, smaller firm.
Ultimately, Councilman John Strickland proposed selecting Milner and Associates. John Cashion and Doug Lapins joined him in voting to hire Milner.
Lapins expressed no strong feelings about one firm or the other.
"I'll be OK with either one," he said prior to a vote.
Cashion said both firms are good, but said he felt Milner was a tier higher, raking it an "A to an A-minus."
"Do we want a Cadillac or a Chevy?" Mayor Nancy Fiorillo replied. "I think we can get there with both."
Strickland said he liked Milner's credentials and said the representatives from Milner "walked the walk and talked the talk."
"I may be more comfortable going with a firm that does this all the time," Strickland said prior to making the motion to chose Milner.
Fiorillo and council member Mark Parson voted for Mandell's firm, saying they liked the benefit of having a local firm that knows Pinehurst.
Parson said he also had a rapport with Mandell and believed, as a landscape architect himself, he would be more involved in the project with Mandell's firm handling the work.
"What I boil it down to," Parson said, "I would get involved because I connect with Rich ... and I can walk to his office."
Representatives from Milner and Associates stressed their extensive work history and taking a holistic view of the village when doing work. Mandell stressed his knowledge of the local area and the experience of his staff.
The two competing firms were selected from a group of firms that received phone interviews.
"These two seemed to be the best in line to do what the village wants," said Howard Warren, a member of the Historic Preservation Commission. Warren helped narrow the field to the final two applicants.
The village has had off-and-on communication with the NPS over three proposed improvements to the downtown. The NPS, which oversees the National Historic Landscape designations, has asked the village to put together a comprehensive documentation of the history of the area in what is called a cultural landscape report.
NPS representatives have also warned past and current councils that changes to the historic district, especially incremental ones, could adversely affect the landmark status.
In January, representatives from Mandell's firm spoke to NPS representatives about a variety of topics, including the National Historic Landmark status and cultural landscape reports.
The Village Council, with input from residents, opted in March to not spend an estimate $120,000 on a cultural landscape report. In addition to the cost, the lack of guarantee that the document would preserve the Village' National Historic Landmark status also factored in.
The village is currently on a "watch" list, which is the second of four classifications that a landmark can be classified.
The village hopes to make improvements downtown prior to the start of the June 2014 U.S. Open and Women's Open in back-to-back weeks.
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or tem brey @thepilot.com.
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