PRESERVING HISTORY — This 20th century postcard shows DeLand's Hotel Putnam in its heyday. Now, that building's gone, and the DeLand Historic Preservation Board wants the city to set aside more money for historic preservation to keep more historic buildings from going the way of the Putnam.

The DeLand Historic Preservation Board unanimously agreed Feb. 2 to send a message to the DeLand City Commission: We need staff, and we need money.

Everyone from developers to individuals looking to alter a structure, build, or demolish in DeLand’s historic district have to make a stop in front of the advisory board. The City Commission has the final say, but the Historic Preservation Board’s rulings are forwarded to the City Commission to help guide their decision.

The board, however, does not have a full-time staff member dedicated to historic preservation. Without full-time support, or more than an estimated $12,500 annually to spend on historic preservation efforts, members of the Historic Preservation Board argued they don’t have the tools to properly protect DeLand’s historic buildings.

The board unanimously agreed during a Feb. 2 meeting to send a resolution to the City Commission requesting that the City of DeLand dedicate funding for a full-time, dedicated historic preservation officer.

That officer’s charge would be seeking out grants and other funding resources, creating programs to get the public involved in historic preservation and working with “local, state and federal agencies regarding historic preservation policies on future land use plans.”

The final language of the resolution will be discussed at the board’s next meeting March 2.

With the resolution, the Historic Preservation Board hopes to draw attention to their requests while the city is working on an update to its strategic plan and before city staff begins planning next year’s budget this summer.

While some members of the board had complained about a lack of resources in the past, the board came to a unanimous decision that the status quo needed to change after the City Commission approved the demolition of five 100-year-old homes on Stetson University’s campus.

The City Commission’s approval came after the Historic Board voted 5-1 to recommend against demolishing the buildings.

“We need to have some teeth on what we’re saying,” Board Member Reggie Santilli said at a special workshop the board held in January.

During that workshop, the Historic Preservation Board laid out a list of items they’d like to see the board have.

Why prepare a list of demands now? Board Member Ross Janke said the dilapidated Putnam Hotel was one big reason. He said people were angry that a developer purchased the building and then wanted to tear it down.

“Now’s the time to say, ‘Hey, this is what just happened. Who’s to say it won’t happen to another building?’” Janke said. “Now we have some momentum for the ask of the commissioners.”

The board is also arguing that a renewed focus on historic preservation could be a big economic driver for the city.

“We spend money on preservation, we’re going to be in a better place financially,” Board Member Charles Jordan said in January.

He and other board members said they want to see DeLand emulate cities that put a bigger focus on historic preservation, like St. Augustine and Sanford.

With the resolution signed and sent off to the City Commission, the next step, Board Member Scott Price said, is to work some magic one-on-one.

“You’ve got every right to call them,” Price said.

Santilli agreed.

“It doesn’t hurt to ring up your city commissioners and talk to them,” she said. “Make a contact so they know what we’re about.”

With the board in agreement to send a resolution to the City Commission, the members will discuss the specifics of it at their next meeting March 2.

DeLand’s Historic Preservation Board meets at 5 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month as long as there is business to discuss. The board meets in the City Commission Chambers at DeLand City Hall, 120 S. Florida Ave., and all meetings are open to the public.


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