Moyer accepts seat on national preservation panel

November 09, 2008|By Chris Guy | Chris Guy,chris.guy@baltsun.com

Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer has accepted a spot as the only municipal official on a 10-member national panel charged with recommending improvements for streamlining federal historic preservation programs - some that have changed little since the National Historic Preservation Act was created more than 40 years ago.

Moyer, who has begun the final year of her second term as the city's chief executive, said she is working now to bring the advisory group to Annapolis sometime late this month or in December.

"We're hoping to have a report by the time the new Obama administration comes into office," Moyer said. "Even now, with this panel, there's some consensus that the issue is collaboration, coordination and partnership. The whole preservation process is so fractured in terms of communication. Too often, you have the right hand not knowing what the left is doing."

The independent panel, which includes a range of members from federal, state and local and tribal offices, will report to two-year-old Preserve America, an agency initiated by first lady Laura Bush in October 2006, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP). The group is charged with updating and shaping policies of national preservation programs, said ACHP spokesman Bruce Milhans.

The panel of experts is one of more than a dozen created during the Bush meeting in New Orleans. In addition, Milhans said, 1,300 suggestions have come in from members of the public with ideas to streamline the historic preservation process.

"I was skeptical in the beginning, but we've discovered you can keep the good and upgrade what needs to be changed after 40 years," said Frank G. Matero, a panel member and chairman of the University of Pennsylvania's graduate program in historic preservation.

"As mayor, what she's seeing is policy in action, policy as it trickles down," Matero said. "A mayor has to reconcile environmental and cultural preservation that were not necessarily linked in 1966. Now, they're both considered important to quality of life."

Matero said Moyer's perspective as a city official will provide balance.

Moyer said the panel's report might help eliminate some of the practical difficulty for public and nonprofit agencies navigating through an often confusing preservation process.

"There are an awful lot of moving parts with this whole process," Moyer said. "But I can tell you, the Feds often don't know what's happening at the local level."

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