A few weeks back we held our meeting to discuss what can be done to better preserve the many historic properties found in Provo. During that meeting we discussed the process which Provo previously had.
In 1994 Provo established a Landmarks commission which within a year or so began a process which resulted in roughly 80 properties being identified as needing protection. This effort was nationally recognized and Provo even received a national award for its successes in preservation. Sadly, since then the list of properties recognized as historic has stagnated. Some of the originally protected properties have been demolished. There have been no new structures designated for historic preservation in the last 10 years.
Interestingly, Provo has quite a few tools, such as the historic sites list, with which to formally recognize and help protect historic properties without taking away the property rights of the site’s owner. We are yet to use this option, but it seems like an easy win for the city. We are able to provide an incentive to preserve without overstepping our role as a city.
Economic incentives are great tools for preserving historic properties and directly contribute to the intangible improvement in city appearance as well as the very tangible increase in property values. As a city we have rolled out programs to incentivize historic downtown businesses with historic facades as well as blade signs. These programs provide small incentives for businesses to improve their appearance at little cost to the city. While a good start for preserving some historic buildings, I believe that with minimal effort Provo has the potential to restore its once famed reputation for historic preservation.
During our meeting the council voted in favor of meeting with the landmarks commission to move forward in finding ways to improve our preservation efforts in Provo.
Some years back our council executive director Matt Taylor made an amazing map of historic entities in Provo. Take a minute to explore it and comment if you noticed anything we missed.
View Historic Resources: Provo City, Utah in a larger map
Wednesday’s Planning Commission meeting was like no other. It exceed 5 hours and was more crowded than most city council meetings tend to be. Besides a fairly heated discussion regarding further commercial development next to the Provo Riverwoods, there was a huge turn-out to address Provo’s Northwest Connector as well as a general plan amendment request.
The amendment to the general plan is fairly unique. While developers frequently make requests, due to the high cost of applying, citizens rarely do so. In this case Doug Pickup and Jade Koyle requested that a road being built behind their homes not be kept in the general plan (with the hope that road construction would be called off as well).
The road in question is being built as an extension of Slate Canyon Drive to carry traffic from the east end of Center Street to 300 South at 1350 East.
Many residents that reside in this area are upset over the construction of this road. They object for various reasons such as questioning the road’s purpose and the position many of their homes will be put in of being sandwiched between two streets. The full request can be viewed here.
This item has been discussed before by the council, with the road itself being funded as a result of council votes on October 5th and 19th. The video of our discussion acknowledging the concerns of the residents is posted below in two parts.
During our discussion the Mayor mentioned that while he understood the residents would be appealing this road, construction would proceed to some extent though asphalt would not be placed until their amendment request was considered.
This is a tough situation which I imagine any resident can empathize with. Generally when one purchases a home, you don’t expect a road to be built behind your house. Additionally, it’s a very difficult thing to effectively stop even when you’re familiar with the process. While we as a city are quick to point out that the road has been in the general plan for nearly 40 years, it’s a bit of a burden to expect every resident to be familiar with every aspect of our city’s lengthy general plan.
I have consistently voted against constructing this road. I made this decision for a number of reasons. First, I believe that residents have the right to a fair process. I objected to the continuing with the construction of this road before the citizen’s could appeal it. Additionally, I strongly believe that the general plan should be used as guide towards making our city better for its residents. I think continuing with this road tarnishes our general plan and is a net-loss for the Provost neighborhood.
During our October 19th meeting the council voted 4-1 to go forward and finalize funding the road. No one spoke against it during our public hearing which can be viewed below.
Five months later, in the March 23rd planning commission meeting the planning commission voted 4-2 in favor of Leland Gammit’s motion to reject the citizen’s request. Interestingly, it appears that the two alternates in attendance also expressed their opposition to the road indicating that had the members in attendance been different, the vote may have gone in a different direction.
The commission did craft their motion in such a way, as to indicate to the council that they saw a solid reason to consider not putting the road in as planned.
The City Council will likely be discussing and voting on this amendment request in one of our April meetings. As always, I invite everyone interested to get involved with the process. I will post with the exact date as soon as it’s noticed. Council member contact information can be found here and I welcome emails from those supporting or opposing this item.
This afternoon at 1:30pm the Provo Municipal council has a discussion on Historic Preservation efforts in Provo. This is an excellent opportunity for us to implement one of the most important goals outlined in our Vision 2030 process. Some time ago, the council passed Title 16 of the City Code which provides the legislative basis for the city’s stated intent of safeguarding our historical heritage. For a few years the city was very successful in working towards a comprehensive historic preservation effort.
When I ran for office I had the opportunity to speak with many of the residents in Provo’s historic downtown. They told me that the historic preservation efforts seemed to have slowed significantly. Many mentioned their concerns that key Provo Landmarks such as the Catholic church building, Hotel Roberts, and the Maeser School Grounds could have perhaps been maintained had the city been more aggressive in Historic Preservation efforts.
They often cited the success the city had in preserving the Library at Academy square as a great example of the willingness of Provo residents to go the extra mile to make sure our city maintains its historic character.
It can be a tough battle. Critics of the Library often cited its run-down condition as evidence that the building was past the point where it would be worth saving. As is unfortunately the case with most old buildings, they do tend to be in less-than-new condition and often require some work to maintain. In support of this the city has a program that provides a no-interest loan to home owners interested in fixing up a historic home.
The last two years have not been our brightest when it comes to making an effort to preserve historic properties. The Tabernacle has burned down, a number of historic properties including the Kress Building were slated for demolition for downtown construction projects, and last council meeting a vote passed that will likely lead to the Provo Housing Authority razing the George Taylor Jr house pictured above.
We also have been seeing a net loss to the number of properties our Landmark registry. The use of our registry seems like an excellent tool which has been under-utilized in recent years.
I believe we can do better and look forward to a discussion that can lead to the council taking more aggressive steps to implement Provo’s Vision for what our city should look like in 20 years.
Last week Provo made national headlines with the announcement of scheduled service by Frontier Airlines direct to Provo’s airport. Flights can be booked online for dates starting June 21st. Flights go to Denver, then can connect to a number of major cities in the United States.
Daily flights will be taking place with 8:30 am departures and 9:14 pm arrivals in Provo. Frontier will be initially using an Embraer E190 aircraft for the two daily flights.
Those flying through Provo will receive double miles for the next year. Flights to Denver and Colorado Springs will be as low as $69. One particularly low fare offered by Frontier will be their introductory $79 flight to Seattle from Provo.