Members of the new Rolla Historic Preservation Commission have started working on gathering local records about the town's buildings.
Members of the new Rolla Historic Preservation Commission have started working on gathering local records about the town’s buildings.
Appointed by the Rolla City Council earlier this year, the commission held its inaugural meeting in May and a second meeting in June. Minutes of both meetings are included in the agenda packet for Monday night’s Rolla City Council meeting.
Randy Stratman was elected chairman of the commission at the May meeting. Dennis Peterman was elected vice chairman. Other members are Larry Roberts, Michelle Marxkors and Adele Heller.
Community Development Director John Petersen oriented the commissioners at the May meeting by explaining the duties outlined in the council’s ordinance that set up the commission.
Roberts said at the meeting that he believes the commission’s No. 1 priority is the section in the ordinance that calls on the panel to “develop a survey plan for Rolla to identify and document historically or architecturally political, or architectural history of the nation, state or city.”
Roberts said that without the survey, “there is no way of making a determination of the significant historical sites in Rolla.”
The commission spent some time discussing ways to conduct that survey of buildings and what resources to use to gain a physical description and historical background information of each structure.
Stratman said the city engineering department might have information about the date of construction of certain buildings. City Administrator John Butz said the Public Works Department might be able to provide a map of subdivisions and the years they were established.
Roberts said he would work with the Missouri state archives to see if that agency has any local records.
Butz volunteered to contact the Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) to see if records are available, and he said Missouri University of Science and Technology officials could be invited to a future meeting.
Stratman said he would also check with the Curtis Laws Wilson Library at S&T to see if any local information might be stored there. Peterman said he would check with the Rolla Public Library.
Key to this endeavor, the commission decided, is education and re-education of the residents of Rolla regarding preservation of historic buildings.
Mark Stauter, of the Phelps County Historical Society, attended that first meeting. He returned for the second meeting, along with Jean Moran Day, also of the county historical society, and Rebecca Rost, Missouri state preservation planner and grants manager.
At the June meeting, Rost handed out two documents. One was a list of Missouri “Certified Local Governments.” These CLGs are cities that have established historic preservation programs that are certified by the National Park Service. These cities have become eligible to be partners with the state historic preservation office and the park service in historic preservation. This makes the cities eligible for federal grants.
According to Rost, Missouri has 56 CLGs and another 30-40 communities with historic preservation commissions or design review boards.
These cities “see preservation as a way to revitalize and stabilize neighborhoods by utilizing the historic building and landscapes to improve the quality of life of current residents and to attract new residents and businesses.” Preservation is seen as a way to improve a community’s economic value and bring in visitors.
Rost also handed out a document titled “The Guidelines for the Participation in Missouri’s Certified Local Government Program.”
Also at the June meeting, Stratman distributed a copy of a 1980 MRPC survey of houses. Roberts said he had been to the office of the Phelps County recorder of deeds and found there are records back to the 1850s, making it possible to do much research in Rolla.
Rost suggested a visit to Washington, Missouri, where a good preservation effort is underway.
The commission also discussed the need to have bylaws.
The next meeting will be at 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 16.