July 15, 2008

VIPs Vote on Historic Goals: Preservation Planning Continues Through State Process

By Janet Jacobs, Corsicana Daily Sun, Texas

Jul. 15--Within 20 minutes, the dots had been placed, and the voting was over.

The informal election took place at the Visionaries in Preservation meeting Monday evening at the Corsicana Public Library. About 60 people attended, and each was given a small sheet containing 12 orange sticky dots. They were then asked to vote on goals for the city's historic preservation plans. Among the goals posted along the library's meeting room wall were "Enforce city ordinances to encourage property owners to maintain and restore their buildings," which received so many dots that it looked like a chicken pox victim, while "Research a downtown trolley system to provide easy access for tourists an residents," got fewer dots.

The goals and their votes will be tallied up by Matt Synatschk, program specialist with the Visionaries in Preservation division of the Texas Historical Commission, which is providing the free guidance and expertise to the city. He expected to have the results sent out via e-mail by Friday, he said.

"All 24 goals in the plan will be arranged in order," Synatschk explained. The purpose of the ranking is to allow the city a clear priority list. If one goal is unobtainable, then the city can move onto the next goal in order, he said.

"And the best part is that they were ranked by the community," Synatschk said.

The next meeting of the Visionaries in Preservation program in Corsicana will be at 6 p.m. Aug. 12 at Temple Beth-El. The meetings are open to the public. At that meeting, experts from the state's heritage tourism division will talk to Corsicana residents about how to attract visitors.

"We want to hear your stories," said Sue Shore, program specialist with the Heritage Tourism Program, another division of the Texas Historical Commission.

"The crux of the whole thing is getting the community to have a sense of place and a sense of themselves," Shore explained. "Then, it's easy to sell it to others."

Heritage tourism starts with pride and how a community feels about itself, she said.

"It's not about marketing," Shore added.

Prior to the goals voting, residents heard from Mayor C.L. "Buster" Brown and City Manager Connie Standridge, who gave a relatively quick rundown of the actions already taken by the city to encourage revitalization, particularly downtown and around the entrance points of the city.

"Downtown's not what we want it to be, but it's a whole lot better than it was ten years ago," Brown said.

Among the items discussed were the sidewalk reconstruction project, the antique railcar restoration, brick street reconstruction, and the tax incentives to downtown business owners who fix up their buildings. A special meeting to discuss the proposed downtown overlay will take place Aug. 11, and Brown encouraged residents to attend that meeting, as well.

Two projects in the works are a tree ordinance and the new fire station which voters approved as part of the bond project last year. Brown said the city wants to make the new fire station as environmentally friendly as possible.


Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at [email protected]


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