Advocacy Update

Statewide Advocacy

Preserve Arkansas is constantly engaged in advocacy and technical assistance efforts throughout Arkansas. Some noteworthy projects are profiled below.

Perry Depot

On May 16, 2019,¬†Governor Hutchinson presented a Rural Community Grant from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Division of Rural Services to the City of Perry for the Perry Railroad Depot project. The $9,970.70 grant will fund site preparation, construction of new concrete footing and foundation piers, and repair to the depot’s floor joists so that its relocation may be completed. Once relocated, the depot will be nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, making it eligible for Historic Preservation Restoration Grant funds through the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. The ultimate goal is a complete rehabilitation of the depot to serve as a community building and museum. Preserve Arkansas was happy to provide assistance with the grant application process and will continue to help until the depot project is completed. The Perry Depot was included on the 2018 Most Endangered Places list, making it an advocacy priority for Preserve Arkansas.

Downtown Pine Bluff

Over the past several months, Preserve Arkansas has assisted the Pine Bluff Historic District Commission by providing technical assistance and legal representation on an appeal of the Commission’s decision in circuit court. As of this spring, the Pine Bluff HDC has been able to prevent the demolition of multiple contributing buildings in the 300 block of Main Street inside their local ordinance historic district. The 300 block is the last intact commercial block in the Pine Bluff Commercial Historic District, increasing the significance of this issue and helping to avoid setting a precedent for the demolition of additional buildings in downtown Pine Bluff. As the City of Pine Bluff and other organizations work to revive the downtown area, it is crucial to protect distinctive buildings in the historic district so they may be rehabilitated and put back into use when the time comes. Downtown Pine Bluff was included on Preserve Arkansas’s Most Endangered Places list in 2015.

Support for County Courthouses

During the month of April, Preserve Arkansas circulated a sign-on letter among Arkansas’s county judges conveying the need for increased funding for the County Courthouse Restoration Grant Program, administered by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. This letter, signed by 45 judges from the 68 counties with grant-eligible courthouses, was sent by Preserve Arkansas to the members of the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council (ANCRC) before their May 8 funding meeting. The ANCRC generously awarded $8.2 million to the Department of Arkansas Heritage. The County Courthouse Grant Program will receive some of these funds, but the amount is yet to be determined.