Minutes 2023-03-04

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March 4, 2023

The Historic Preservation Commission met at Mount Vernon City Hall, and also via Zoom on Saturday, March 4, 2023 at 8:30 a.m. Commissioners present at City Hall were Suzette Astley, Mike Guerber, Duane Eash, Sherry Brayton, Donnie Moore, Matt Ruff, Wade Squiers and Guy Booth. Attending via Zoom was Janet Budack. A guest at the meeting was Cliff Weaver on behalf of the owners of the building at 100 1st St SE, Mount Vernon.

Minutes of the meeting of February 4, 2023 were amended and approved as amended.

Cliff Weaver was present at the meeting today to give a pre-review regarding the work that is being done on the building at 100 1st St SE. This building is in the commercial historic district and has been known as the Sing-Along building. Wade Squiers is the architect who is assisting in the design of repairs and modifications that need to be completed. The roof repair has now been completed. There was substantial weakness because of wood that had deteriorated. The two accessory buildings at the south end of the property have been demolished and removed. Cliff Weaver talked about the changes that are being made to the exterior. This includes moving an access door that is on the west side of the building to the east side of the building. This will return that portion of the building to its original configuration, except there will now be windows where there was no entrance previously. The access to the second story of the building will be in the new doorway on the east side of the building. Cliff provided a copy of the type of door and described the configuration for the landing and canopy above the door.

There is also a door on the south end of the building that will be replaced. This is not a door for ingress and egress to the main building, but only to the HVAC equipment.

The owners of the building are being diligent in the long-term restoration. They have hired a company that will advise them on the possibility of removal of paint on the building and returning the building to its original brick and limestone exterior. The windows that are being replaced will match the original windows in the front of the building. Also, new hardwood floors are being installed where flooring needs to be replaced. Because of the substantial amount of work that is being done, the Commission suggested that the owners investigate what, if any tax credits may be available for this renovation project. Mr. Weaver will submit the application for a certificate of appropriateness at our next meeting. The Commission is impressed with the work that is being done by the new owners.

Sue will give the Commission’s annual report to the City Council at the council meeting on March 6, 2023. The full report is attached to the Minutes.

Sue led a discussion regarding how the Commission should deal with requests for installing vinyl products on buildings that are within our jurisdiction. The Secretary of Interior standards do not endorse the use of vinyl. The Commission is presented requests for use of vinyl products for windows, doors, siding and other architectural features. Our responsibility is to comply with the Secretary of Interior standards for treatment of historic properties. The Commission wants to establish the criteria for times where there can be exceptions that would allow the use of vinyl products. We will prepare a summary of reasons that vinyl may be used in place of traditional historic materials.

Sue also talked about methods of streamlining the process for people who have non- controversial needs to get a certificate from HPC. An example would be a request for re-roofing a house. Because this would be non-controversial, the Commission will establish a guideline where the chair can sign a certificate of no material effect. However, this will be presented at the next public meeting of the Commission so its approval will be of record.

The Commission discussed the compilation of a list of contractors who have worked on historic structures. This list of contractors and craftspeople should be available so when an owner needs work done, they will have a list of people who have had experience. Suzette has put together a document that lists contractors and craftspeople that will appear on our website. The list is not an endorsement and does not give any guarantee of the quality of work on any particular project. However, this does give a building owner a list of contractors who may be of assistance.

Suzette indicated that she has been considering preparing an application for an HRDP grant. This would be for projects that can be done in the historic districts of the City, and possibly with assistance from the city employees. This grant requires an in-kind match from the recipient. An example would be cleaning the exterior of the Visitor’s Center. At this time, the City personnel would not have time to take on additional projects, but the Commission could organize a volunteer group to perform the work which could then qualify for a matching grant from HRDP. The Commission has decided to have a sub-committee that deals with windows and other requests for non-historic material. Duane and Wade have agreed to be part of that committee. The committee on the cemetery project had no report for this meeting.

A workshop on historic gardens is scheduled for April 15. There will also be a workshop on painting on May 20 that Duane will be presenting. Both workshops will be at the Buresh Center.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:40 a.m.

Respectfully Submitted, Guy Booth, Secretary