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Back in November, we heard that Mayor Vince Gray had finally nominated two people to stick around past their already-expired terms on the Historic Preservation Review Board and two more to fill pending vacancies. It was a relief, given that only two members of the nine-person board haven’t had their terms expire.
Well, turns out two of those long-delayed nominees don’t want to serve anyway: newbie Niani Kilkenny and sitting board member Elinor Bacon both bowed out for personal reasons. To make matters worse, architectural historian Pamela Scott is also resigning, which leaves chairwoman Catherine Buell as the only current member. If you’re going to take the better part of a year to even nominate someone, seems you’d want to make sure your nominee wants the job!
The problem is, the HPRB isn’t like most other boards that have been half-empty for a while now. It’s required by law to have experts qualified in history, architectural history, and archeology. The historian position has been vacant for a year now, and Scott’s resignation will leave the board without an architectural historian. That’s bothering Councilmember Tommy Wells, who oversees the board as part of the Office of Planning, and fired off a letter of concern to the mayor in December.
“Without all of the professional positions filled, the HPRB will not be in compliance with federal requirements, which could result in a revocation of grant funding, a suspension of the preservation program, and possible challenges to approved landmark applications,” he wrote. “With our significant number of landmarks and historic districts, the critical role of the HPRB cannot be overemphasized. It is imperative that we fill the professional positions quickly so as not to jeopardize the Board’s standing or decisions, as well as fill the citizen positions so that a quorum is always possible.”
Wells’ letter is after the jump.
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