Posts Tagged Tyler Gearhart
Last week preservationists from across the nation came to Washington DC to participate in our annual Lobby Day, which is coordinated by the National Conference for State Historic Preservation Officers and Preservation Action.
I always enjoy the train ride from Baltimore to Washington and bumping into friends and colleagues on their regular commutes to the nation’s capitol. Filing off the train into the grandeur of Union Station and walking across Capitol Hill to the House and Senate office buildings never fails to both impress and inspire me. Talk about the power of place.
Playing the role of a grassroots lobbyist takes both preparation and a fair amount of stamina. This year seven Marylanders, representing the Preservation Maryland, the National Trust, Maryland Historical Trust, Preservation Action, Annapolis Historic District Commission, and University of Maryland Graduate Program in Historic Preservation, split into teams to cover our visits to members of the Maryland delegation. I participated in six visits with House and Senate staffers and calculated that I walked three miles doing so.
Our focus was to ask for support of a $65 million appropriation for the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF), which funds the work of the State and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices to survey the nation’s historic resources and to administer the tax credit and compliance programs. We also asked for support of the Creating American Prosperity through Preservation Act (CAPP), which would enhance the federal rehabilitation tax credit program to make it usable for smaller Main Street scale projects.
We are very fortunate to have strong leadership and support of historic preservation by members of Maryland’s congressional delegation. Last year Senator Cardin became lead sponsor of the CAPP Act and Senator Mikulski was recently appointed chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, which includes oversight of the HPF. Even so, after the President’s budget and CAPP bill are introduced, we’ll need your help to get them passed. So stay tuned.
Governor O’Malley submitted his budget to the General Assembly on January 16 and for the first time since the Great Recession it included an increase for historic preservation! While most programs received level funding from last year, funding for the Sustainable Communities Tax Credit was increased from $7 to $10 million for commercial projects. Below is an overview of the proposed funding for the various state preservation programs. Now we need your help to ensure they are approved, and not cut, by the General Assembly.
- Sustainable Communities Tax Credit: $10 million ($3 million increase from FY2013)
- Maryland Heritage Areas Program: $3 million
- African American Heritage Preservation Grant Program: $1 million
- Maryland Humanities Council: $53,500
- Main Street Maryland
Community Legacy: $6 million
Neighborhood BusinessWorks: $4.325 million ($75,000 increase from
The Maryland General Assembly is now in the process of reviewing Governor O’Malley’s budget. Your representatives in the General Assembly need to hear from you about the importance of these funding programs to preservation efforts in your community.
1) Familiarize yourself with the issues through the links to the websites for the programs above. Also, understand the basics of how the General Assembly does its work. Our advocacy resource page has everything you need to begin advocating for preservation in Maryland. Among the resources are a overview of the legislative process, important dates to remember, and talking points on key budgetary issues.
2) Make sure you know your representatives on a state and federal level by clicking here. Please contact them to encourage their support of the preservation agenda. Otherwise, please contact the committee chairs. Be sure to give them examples of museums, historic sites and tax-credit projects in their district which have benefited from these programs.
3) Join your preservation colleagues for the Maryland Historical Trust Awards at 4:30 PM on January 31st to honor the great historic preservation projects that these important state programs have made possible.
4) Thank Governor O’Malley for his support of historic preservation!
Your voice is crucial to funding these important programs. Thanks for your support!
On January 9, 2013, the 433rd session of the Maryland General Assembly convened. During this session the General Assembly will consider many issues including gun control, the death penalty, funding roads and mass transit, rebuilding Baltimore’s aging schools, and the construction of offshore wind turbines. The most immediate issue is passing a FY2014 budget which Governor O’Malley introduced on January 16. Included in the Department of Planning’s budget are three historic preservation programs which will need your action. Future Advocacy Alerts will provide dates and locations for hearings on these programs. Fact sheets which provide information on projects supported by each program and the amount we are asking to be appropriated are available on our advocacy resource page.
- Sustainable Communities Rehabilitation Tax Credit: $10 million (level funding from FY2013)
- Maryland Heritage Areas: $3 million (level funding from FY2013)
- African American Heritage Preservation Grant Program: $1 million (level funding from FY2012)
1) Identify your representatives in the Maryland General Assembly by clicking here.
2) Now that the Governor’s budget was released on January 16, please contact your state senator and delegates to encourage their support of the three programs above. Be sure to give them examples of museums, historic sites, and tax-credit projects in your district which have benefited or could benefit from these programs.
3) Use our fact sheets to familiarize yourself with the issues. Also, familiarize yourself with the legislative process and the way the General Assembly works. Our advocacy page has everything you need to begin supporting preservation legislation and budget issues in Maryland. Among the resources are a description of the legislative process, important dates to remember, and talking points on key preservation issues.
4) Join colleagues at the 38th Annual Maryland Preservation Awards hosted by the Maryland Historical Trust on January 31, 2013. The awards ceremony begins at 4:30 p.m. in the Governor Calvert Ballroom in the Governor Calvert House located at 58 State Circle, Annapolis. The event is free and open to the public, but advanced registration is required.
Your voice is crucial to funding these important programs. Thanks for your support!
Wednesday, January 9, 2013 will mark the opening of the 433th session of the Maryland General Assembly. In an unusual turn of events, the General Assembly held two special sessions this past year. The first was to balance the budget including an income tax increase on six-figure earners, which was approved on May 16th. The second was to consider establishing a casino in Prince George’s County and legalizing table games, which were subsequently passed on August 15th.
Preservation Maryland, working with a coalition of statewide heritage interests and organizations, has developed a preservation agenda to guide advocacy efforts in Annapolis during the upcoming 2013 session.
Working together in this effort are representatives from: Archaeological Society of Maryland, Council for Maryland Archaeology, Greater Baltimore History Alliance, Main Street Maryland, Maryland Association of Historic District Commissions, Maryland Association of History Museums, Maryland Coalition of Heritage Areas, Maryland Commission on African American History & Culture, Maryland Higher Education Commission, Maryland Historical Society, Maryland Historical Trust, Maryland Humanities Council, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Governor O’Malley will submit his budget to the General Assembly in January. As always, we will be relying on your assistance to make sure that the final budget reflects the preservation priorities that protect and support our state’s unique heritage sites.
To learn more about how you can help shape public policy and preserve Maryland’s Heritage visit the Advocacy page of Preservation Maryland’s website.
To its credit, the Baltimore Sun has published a series of investigate articles exposing gross errors by city and state administrators of various tax credit programs. The most recent was on Baltimore City’s Historic Tax Credit program.
Preservation Maryland helped fund a feasibility study that led to passage of the tax credit program by the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore in 1996. The primary goal of the program was to create an incentive for the rehabilitation of Baltimore’s stock of historic residential and commercial buildings and tool for revitalizing its neighborhoods. In addition, it was intended to help stem Baltimore’s population loss and alleviate the city’s burdensome property tax rate, the highest in the state.
Here’s how the program works. To be eligible, a building must be individually landmarked or be a contributing structure within a Baltimore City or National Register historic district. The rehabilitation must be substantial and all work must conform to standards that preserve the historic and architectural integrity of the building. In return a 10 year credit is granted against the increased property tax assessment directly resulting from qualified rehabilitation.
To date, over 1200 historic buildings have been rehabilitated in Baltimore City using the tax credit, leveraging over $500 million of private investment. The benefits of the program are clear: renovated and reused buildings, revitalized communities, reuse of existing infrastructure, new jobs and businesses, and a substantial net increase in sales and income tax revenues for the City and the State.
Regrettably, there have been serious lapses by city and state tax assessors that have resulted in unearned credits or credits continuing beyond their 10 year period. Obviously, these problems need to be addressed. In addition, it was found nearly 30% of individuals that used the credit would have done their projects without the incentive. As a result, some have questioned whether or not continuation of the tax credit program is justified.
But I would argue that the 30% still deserve the credit and that it is well worth the investment for the additional 70% of projects that would not have occurred but for the credit. So fix the administrative problems, but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater by eliminating one of Baltimore’s most effective economic development and community revitalization programs.
I think everyone would agree that Sailabration, the official start of the two-year celebration of America’s defeat of the British in the War of 1812, has been a great success. Hundreds of thousands of visitors and residents have flocked to the Inner Harbor and other sites in Baltimore to celebrate, making local businesses happy and organizers proud.
While the tall ships from around the world are spectacular and have been the main attraction, for me the highlight of past week has been watching the Blue Angels with my children from the ramparts of Fort McHenry on Saturday. It was a beautiful day and a spectacular setting for the show.
It was also a very profound experience to be in the Fort and reflect on what the soldiers had endured during the bombardment nearly two hundred years ago, which was witnessed by Francis Scott Key who wrote what would become our national anthem. And to fast forward to today and reflect on the important role of America’s armed forces and the sacrifices that are made by its members and their families as symbolized by the Blue Angels.
Of course, seeing the Blue Angels also makes you think about the incredible leaps in technology that have occurred since the ships and canons of 1812 to the jet fighters of today. It also brings to mind the important role of historic preservation as exemplified by Fort McHenry, which decrepit and abandoned was established as a national park in 1925, subsequently restored by the Works Progress Administration, and continues to serve as a touchstone to the War of 1812 and our national anthem.
It was great to see some 25,000 people in the park enjoying the air show, concerts and fireworks commemorating the defining role that Fort McHenry and Baltimore played in American history. And the celebration has just begun, because the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore isn’t until September 13, 2014!
Last week I was in Charleston for an executive retreat of statewide and local partners of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. About thirty organizations were represented. We toured historic sites, discussed current preservation issues and organizational challenges, and learned more about the Trust’s new strategic framework and signature National Treasures program.
The National Treasures program will be a portfolio of 100 historic properties across the country that the Trust will focus its staff and programming on preserving. To date, 22 Treasures have been named including Charleston. The threat: the growing cruise ship industry.
Charleston was America’s first local historic district. It was established in 1931 the same year that Preservation Maryland was founded. The city played and important role in America’s history and is comprised of an incredible collection of residential, commercial, religious and civic architecture ranging from 1700 through the mid twentieth century. Like many popular historic destinations, including Annapolis, Charleston has to strike a balance between the economic benefits of tourism and protecting the quality of life of its residents.
In June 2011, Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, Charlestowne Neighborhood Association, Coastal Conservation League and Preservation Society of Charleston filed suit against Carnival Cruise Lines. The suit alleges that provisions of the City of Charleston’s existing ordinances apply to Carnival Cruise Line ships that use Union Pier, which is adjacent to Charleston’s historic district.
So what’s the big deal? Charleston has become both a cruise ship destination and the new home port for the Carnival Fantasy cruise ship. So not only do thousands of visitors disembark from visiting cruise ships into the historic district including residential neighborhoods on a daily basis, every week over 2,000 passengers drive into and out of Charleston for the Fantasy cruise to Florida and the Bahamas.
It’s been over two weeks since the Maryland General Assembly adjourned without the Senate and House agreeing to a final budget package. We’ve all heard that the default “doomsday” budget would result in substantial cuts in state funding for education and local government. But you may not know that it would also totally eliminate the $7 million budgeted by Governor O’Malley for the Sustainable Communities Tax Credit program (formerly the Heritage Tax Credit), one of the largest sources of funding for historic preservation in Maryland.
If the funding for the Tax Credit program is not restored in a Special Session of the General Assembly, if indeed convened, its elimination would become the fourth such victim of much needed preservation funding programs administered by the Maryland Historical Trust. In the past few years MHT’s Capital, Non-Capital, and Museum Assistance Grant programs have all been zeroed-out.
The weak economy, declining state revenues, and reduced staffing have all contributed to these losses. And while historic preservation is recognized for its benefits to Maryland’s unique character, quality of life, and economy, it is often viewed as secondary to health, education, and other competing governmental roles and programs. Although the State of Maryland has been a national leader for its breadth of programs supporting the preservation of historic buildings and neighborhoods, we have to some extent become a victim of our success.
The bad news is that we have at least three, and depending on whether or not a Special Session is called, maybe four unfunded preservation programs. The good news is that funding for the Maryland Heritage Area ($3 million) and African American Heritage Preservation ($1 million), which are administered by MHT, and Community Legacy ($6 million) and Neighborhood Business Works ($4.25 million), which are administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development and support many preservation and revitalization initiatives, was approved by the General Assembly.
It’s increasingly difficult to successfully justify and advocate for so many, and at times overlapping, programs, especially when in some cases their staffing has been eliminated. Every five years each State Historic Preservation Office is required to adopt a new preservation plan in order to continuing receiving funding through The National Historic Preservation Program. The last plan was approved in 2005. Unfortunately, PreserveMaryland, the planning process initiated by MHT to update the state preservation plan in 2010 has stalled.
It’s past time to get moving on the new state preservation plan to document the benefits (community, environmental, economic) of the state’s historic preservation programs, and examine how they can be more efficiently and effectively administered , and to make appropriate changes. We also need to strengthen the role of the MHT Board of Trustees (which is appointed by the Governor) and its stakeholders, like Preservation Maryland, in re-building the support of the Governor and General Assembly for funding and legislation to preserve’s Maryland’s rich heritage.
The best way to do that is through Preserve Maryland and a new, focused state preservation plan. Let’s get working!
Last week Senator Ben Cardin announced the Creating American Prosperity through Preservation (CAPP) Act at the historic Clifton Mansion in Baltimore City.
The CAPP Act would amend the federal tax credit for the rehabilitation of historic buildings to be an even more effective economic engine and job creator. The proposed legislation will make the historic tax credit easier to use to rehabilitate smaller buildings typically found in small towns and Main Street commercial districts.
In its 32-year history, the federal historic tax credit has resulted in the creation of 2 million jobs, saved 37,000 vacant or underutilized buildings and stimulated $90 billion in private investment. The 20% tax credit encourages the adaptive reuse of historic warehouses, schools, churches, and other buildings to meet current needs for housing, offices, and retail space, the historic tax credit creates skilled jobs, revitalizes communities, and fuels local economies.
The CAPP Act will:
- Drive development and job creation into smaller “Main Street” communities by increasing the credit amount to 30% for projects under $5 million.
- Promote energy-efficiency and cost-savings by encouraging the use of energy efficient technologies.
- Enhance the impact of the historic tax credit in low-income areas by eliminating barriers to nonprofit community-based developers.
- Expand the 10% credit for the rehabilitation of non historic buildings to include buildings “fifty years or older.”
- Improve to efficiency of state tax credits by eliminating the federal taxation of the state credits.
We are very grateful to Senator Cardin for sponsoring CAPP, which is the priority legislation for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and look forward to working with the Senator and the Trust to get the bill passed. For more information about how to ensure passage of the CAPP Act, please visit www.preservationnation.org/taxcredits.
The preservation movement in America really began in 1853 with the Mt. Vernon Ladies Association’s effort to save George Washington’s home. Of course, at that time there were no state or federal programs or laws for preserving of our new nation’s cultural or architectural heritage, even Mt. Vernon.
Thankfully, in response to international efforts to preserve historic sites like the Coliseum in Rome, things began to change in the 1930’s leading to the establishment of the nation’s first municipal historic district in Charleston, South Carolina. Eventually the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) was enacted in 1966, which created the National Register of Historic Places and State Historic Preservation Offices and the system for identifying and protecting historic buildings and sites.
Maryland has long been a leader in historic preservation. In fact, the Maryland Historical Trust was established five years before the NHPA in response to lobby efforts by the Society of the Preservation of Maryland Antiquities, now know as Preservation Maryland, to create a quasi-state agency dedicated to preserving historical and cultural resources. But while today the preservation of historic buildings and sites is widely recognized as important to the public welfare, with an established legal and regulatory framework, it is often seen as secondary to education and other social services, or even economic development interests.
Historic preservation is vital to understanding our shared history, maintaining a sense of place, revitalizing older neighborhoods and Main Street commercial districts, creating sustainable communities, and plays an important role in our culture and economy. Accordingly, every five years states are required to produce preservation plans in order to receive federal funding for preservation programs. Unfortunately, the Maryland Historical Trust’s PreserveMaryland planning initiative has stalled at critical time when we need to be demonstrating the importance and benefits of historic preservation when competing for shrinking state revenues.
One of my goals for PreserveMaryland is for the Maryland Historical Trust and Maryland Department of Planning to develop an annual “State of Preservation” report, which both documents and illustrates the impact of the state funding and other programs on preserving are Maryland’s historical and cultural resources. It could be used to more effectively educate lawmakers and empower preservation advocates in the efforts to gain support for the Maryland Historical Trust and its programs, like the Maryland State Arts Council and Department of Business and economic Development do so successfully.
Earlier this week the Maryland General Assembly convened in Annapolis for its 430th legislative session. It’s critical for those who care about the important role of preservation in their lives and communities to make your voices heard. The Governor’s budget is due to be released on January 18. We’ll let you know how preservation interests fare and hope to see you in Annapolis!