Conservancy Participates in D.C. Preservation Advocacy Day
-U.S. Capitol Building, Washington D.C.
March 8, 2012
The Landmarks Conservancy promoted federal funding for preservation and emphasized the jobs, community revitalization, sustainability, and tourism that preservation promotes in March 8 visits to the New York Congressional delegation on national Preservation Advocacy Day.
It has been a tough time for preservation in Washington. The President’s budget eliminated two popular grant programs: Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America, and both the new House and Senate transportation bills being debated threaten historic preservation protections, funding and programs that are contained in the current transportation bill.
The preservation agenda called for:
— maintaining the President’s budget request for $46.9 million to support State and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices;
— a $10 million competitive grant program for bricks and mortar projects;
— maintaining historic preservation provisions in the transportation bill;
—improving federal historic preservation tax incentives for commercial rehabilitation projects by making them easier for smaller projects to use and adding a homeowners tax credit.
Federal tax credits have helped restore Macy’s, the Empire State Building and the Apollo Theater. New York State developers have used them extensively and several projects have paired the federal credits with relatively new state preservation rehab credits.
The $46.9 million in the President’s budget is distributed across the country, to 59 State and 131 Tribal Historic Preservation Offices. These offices administer the federal tax credits and survey and evaluate historic sites. In New York, the State Historic Preservation Office also runs the new state tax credits, which are now available to homeowners undertaking restoration projects.
Save America’s Treasures grants have helped the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, Ellis Island and the Jay Heritage Center in Rye, among many New York projects. Several New York State communities received grants and became “Preserve America Communities” by promoting heritage tourism. The proposed $10 million grant initiative would serve as a partial substitute for these lost programs.
Transportation “enhancements,” which dedicate a portion of federal transportation funding for related preservation projects such as restoration of historic bridges and train stations has provided the largest single source of federal funding for historic preservation—assisting 24,000 projects nationwide.
Preservation programs continue to receive good bi-partisan support within the New York Congressional Delegation. Several of our Representatives also belong to the bi-partisan House Historic Preservation Caucus.
Conservancy Public Policy Director Andrea Goldwyn and President Peg Breen joined representatives of the Preservation League of New York State and State Historic Preservation Office in visits to 21 delegation offices.
The Conservancy is a longstanding member of Preservation Action, a national group that has sponsored or co-sponsored National Preservation Advocacy day for decades. This year’s effort drew more than 200 preservationists from around the country.