New city commission focusing on historic preservation

By Nicole Cooke -

The City of Sedalia is beginning to evaluate its priorities when it comes to historic preservation now that it is officially a Certified Local Government.

Sedalia received the CLG designation June 22 from the National Park Service. According to a news release, a CLG is a city that has been determined to have made a commitment to historic preservation, which Sedalia demonstrated by the Sedalia City Council approving a preservation ordinance and creating a Sedalia Historic Preservation Commission earlier this year.

The Commission hosted its first public meeting July 20 to gather public input as to what direction the city should take when it comes to historic preservation to be compiled into an official preservation plan for council to consider for approval. The plan will oversee the entire city’s strategic effort for historic preservation, making sure other city planning entities are on the same page when it comes to preservation.

“We had a good turnout, the visioning exercise opened people up for what we were asking,” Meg Liston, a member of the Commission and director of Sedalia Downtown Development Inc., said of the meeting. “We got a lot of suggestions on individual properties and cultural themes that are important to the people who attended for Sedalia and our history. We identified possible areas and landmarks that should be focused on as priorities as recognizing them as landmarks or creating historic districts.”

The Commission is a five-member entity and the members are appointed by the mayor and approved by council, so it is “an official arm of the city,” Liston explained. Any actions taken by the Commission must be approved by council.

“The Commission meets monthly and will be compiling elements of the plan, which includes goals and context of historic proprieties so that we’re deciding what’s important to the community — is it geographical commonality, or chronological, age, or some type of cultural connection or use of property,” Liston said. “By that we put priorities into what we’ll be looking for for different areas of designation districts or landmarks. We got a lot of good ideas at the forum that would be important to the community.”

Liston said the plan will also include a summary of Sedalia’s history, past preservation efforts, and recommendations on how to move forward and develop means to conduct historic surveys on a regular basis in the community.

“Our No. 1 priority is get a plan in writing and approved through the city. That’s probably three to six months worth of work to get it done and approved through the state before the city,” Liston explained. “Following that, our job is to see that a survey of historic properties is updated. One was done a long time ago. With the use of some state funds available for CLGs, we can hire historic consultants and they can assess all the historic properties within the City of Sedalia. We will record a history of the properties and a documentation of where the property is at this point in time.”

Liston said those future surveys, along with creating priorities in the preservation plan, will allow the Commission to identify areas that should be designated as local historic districts or local landmarks.

“It’s particularly interesting and needed for our group and city for possible funding — individual grants or even residential properties within historic districts,” Liston said. “Those properties would qualify for state level historic preservation or rehabilitation grants. (Having the historic designation) is a way for property owners to be able to apply for 25 percent of the costs reimbursed as a tax credit from the state. Without that, people are really unable to access that type of funding. We think that’s important because it helps maintain the character of the neighborhoods, whether commercial or residential.

“It also helps tourism — communities that are known for putting importance on history preservation are ones travelers are interested in seeing.”

By Nicole Cooke

Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.

Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.

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