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Public input sought for long-term historic preservation plan

Help set the course for Kentucky's future

Greensburg depotKHC wants to hear from citizens across the state as we develop Kentucky's next five-year strategic plan, to outline goals and objectives for helping preserve historic buildings and other sites in the Commonwealth through 2020.

Help set the course for Kentucky's future by taking the online survey today. The goal is to gather feedback and creative ideas from a broad range of constituents, to help address issues such as how to approach neighborhood preservation more effectively, stem demolition by neglect, and foster greater understanding of the benefits of – and a stronger public commitment toward – the preservation and reuse of old buildings.

Craig Potts, Isaac Kremer, Vicki BirenbergThe survey takes just 5 minutes, and we are particularly interested in hearing from individuals who do not think of themselves as “historic preservationists.”

“Historic preservation is about much more than old buildings,” said Vicki Birenberg, KHC planning coordinator, who is overseeing plan development. “Preservation provides many beneficial opportunities – to feel connected to the history and identity of our communities, for economic revitalization and placemaking, for strengthening social connections, and to reuse existing structures to conserve scarce resources. We want to use this as an opportunity to demonstrate how preserving historic buildings and the historic fabric of our communities is becoming increasingly relevant to each of our lives.”

Historic downtowns and older neighborhoods are being re-energized as a result of the renewed interest in walkability and the enhanced quality of life that comes with the freedom from driving, Birenberg said. This is supported by national trends showing that downtown and urban settings are becoming more desirable as places to live, while suburban areas “are scrambling to address the lack of pedestrian infrastructure and proximity between destinations,” she said.

Pikeville downtownStudies show that walkable neighborhoods translate into higher real estate values, while traditional older neighborhoods designed with sidewalks, front porches and similar amenities to promote connectivity and social interaction are being replicated in developments utilizing new urbanist neighborhood design principles.Marion Cafe sign

“We want to hear from all stakeholders, especially those that have the ability in their day-to-day activities to make decisions or influence what happens to historic and cultural resources – not just buildings, but also landscapes such as public spaces or farms, and sites such as historic bridges, rock fences or roadside buildings,” Birenberg said.

Stakeholders include planners, real estate professionals, federal and state agency representatives, American Indian tribes with ties to Kentucky, emergency management agencies, the business community, elected state and local officials, representatives of universities and school systems, historic property owners, anyone who may have associations with or ideas about resources, or communities that have not been the focus of historic preservation efforts in the past.Rock wallVicki Birenberg

Once completed in early 2016, the plan is intended to serve as a tool for use by individuals, nonprofits and local governments interested in applying the strategies to local issues.

“A state plan will only be successful if it truly reflects what the needs are, and how the public can respond in a proactive way to preserve historic places that have meaning and significance,” said Craig Potts, KHC executive director and state historic preservation officer.

For more, visit, or call Vicki at 502-564-7005, ext. 126.

Photos: Greensburg Depot; Craig Potts, Discover Downtown Middlesboro Main Street Director Isaac Kremer and Vicki Birenberg; Downtown Pikeville; Marion Cafe Sign, Crittenden County; and a rock wall along a creek in central Kentucky

Preservation Planning

"The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change.  The question is how."  -Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

Historic preservation planning establishes a process for identifying, evaluating, protecting, and managing significant historic and cultural resources within the context of community planning and land management.  Like all community planning efforts, it is influenced by the actions that direct change.

MainStrasse District, Covington 

To plan for their cultural resources, the Covington City Commission adopted a historic preservation ordinance that instituted an architectural review board and later established historic preservation overlay zones and the Historic Covington Design Guidelines.  Pictured above, the 600 block of Main Street in the MainStrasse Historic Preservation Overlay Zone, one of seven locally-designated preservation overlays in the city.

Preservation planning is based on the following principles:

  1. Important historic properties are irreplaceable if destroyed.  Preservation planning provides for conservative use of these properties and permits drastic modification or destruction of historic properties only after all other alternatives are exhausted.

  2. If planning for the preservation of historic properties is to be effective, it must begin before the identification of all significant properties has been completed.  To make responsible decisions about resources, existing information must be used to the maximum extent and new information must be acquired regularly.

  3. Preservation planning includes public participation.  Public involvement is most meaningful when used to define historic preservation issues at the beginning of the planning process.  

The danger of historic preservation planning is that it can become separated from the overall community planning process.  Preservation planning driven by survey alone or concerned with isolated landmarks without being connected to decisions about economic development, public investment, and urban form, is not effective.  When incorporated into broader issues of land use and community growth, historic preservation planning minimizes potential negative impacts that unchecked growth may have on the landscape. 

Information on preparing preservation plans is available from the Kentucky Heritage Council and the National Park Service.  In addition, the American Planning Association and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have produced excellent preservation planning publications.  For more, visit the American Planning Association [External Link - You are now leaving the .gov domain. ] and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. External Link - You are now leaving the .gov domain.

For More Information

Vicki Birenberg
State Certified Local Government Program and Planning Coordinator
(502) 564-7005, ext. 126


Related Content


The National Park Service offers various resources for local preservation planning:

Historic Preservation Planning in Local Communities [External Link - You are now leaving the .gov domain. ] includes links to planning tips, tools and guidelines, and provides examples of local historic preservation plans across the country

Learn all about sustainable preservation practices [External Link - You are now leaving the .gov domain. ]from NPS Technical Preservation Services

The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Illustrated Guidelines on  Sustainability for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings [External Link - You are now leaving the .gov domain. ] are the official NPS guidelines on how to make changes to improve energy efficiency of historic buildings


Last Updated 3/23/2015