Cultural Landscape Report Stressed to Village Council
A cultural landscape report is an important document if the village of Pinehurst values and wants to maintain its National Historic Landmark designation, the council was told last week.
Richard Mandell, a local golf course architect and arborist, and Cari Goetcheus, a cultural landscape expert who has worked for the National Park Service, told the council that the report could also serve as a guide to any proposed changes to areas within the designation, as well as improve relations between the village and representatives from the National Park Service, which oversees the National Historic Landmark (NHL) program.
Goetcheus told the council that after reading the original NHL nomination and the recent correspondence between the village and the National Park Service, it is clear to her that the village has two options.
“If the NHL designation is of value to the village, then there appears to be some kind of communication that needs to be enhanced between the village and the National Park Service,” Goetcheus said. “If it truly has little value or no value to you, then you don’t need to enhance communication with the National Park Service.
“So I don’t want to say it’s a black-and-white choice, but honestly, it is that black-and-white choice. If you do value that NHL designation, then there is a process to go through.”
Part of that process, they said, is creating a cultural landscape report. The prior council opted not to explore creating such a report because of the costs.
Mandell and Goetcheus discussed the report with the council during a work session Jan. 10.
Council member Mark Parson said he could support a report, if the document would “be a blueprint for the future restoration of the village.”
Recently, the National Park Service and the village have communicated about possible changes to the Village Green, which is part of the historic district. Park Service officials have declined to meet with village officials until it completes a cultural landscape report.
The village wants to proceed with several projects deemed restorative by proponents, including relocation and renovation of the sand parking lot.
Park Service officials have cautioned the village in letters that changes to the area could adversely impact the Landmark designation, which was obtained in 1996 as a joint venture between the village and Pinehurst Resort.
All current council members have stressed their desire to preserve the village’s Landmark status.
The cultural landscape report not only documents the past, but can also help determine what is historically significant to the area and serve as a guideline for future development.
The document, Goetcheus said, could help prevent those incremental changes the Park Service has warned about in its letters.
“One of the things I see in a lot of communities is disjointed incremental change,” Goetcheus said. “In the 1950s, you might say it’s just a building, and then 1962 comes around, and it’s just a parking lot… you keep adding, and you keep adding, and suddenly that thing that had a certain significance or a certain character — because you are eating away at it — it’s still there, but it’s not really there anymore. It’s not the same thing.”
Council members have said that there is some urgency to get some or all of the proposed enhancements completed prior to 2014, when Pinehurst hosts the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open back-to-back.
“We do have some serious timing issues,” Mayor Nancy Fiorillo said after the meeting.
Mandell and Goetcheus told the council that the document, which likely would take four to eight months to complete, doesn’t have to be unwieldy in size or cost.
“An awful lot of the research that is required has already been done for this,” Goetcheus said. “Maybe you have to add some information gap-wise, but I don’t see this as being a four-year, multibillion-dollar document or process.”
Mandell, who has done similar work documenting local golf courses, said he thinks the most important thing is that the cultural landscape report is part of a formal process the Park Service wants followed.
“It is a form of permit process,” Mandell said. “They want documentation. They can’t be experts on everybody’s project, but if you can show them documentation on your project, they would probably work with you very easily.”
Goetcheus and Mandell said they thought such a report could be done in phases.
Council members said after the meeting that they liked what they heard and were interested in continuing discussions.
“I am encouraged about this whole process,” council member John Cashion said. “I think the dialogue is helpful, and at the end of the day, I think we will be able to work out everything that needs to be worked out with the National Park Service.”
Contact Tom Embrey at email@example.com.
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