Leading Preservation Economist Chides White House for Plan to Cut Preserve America, SAT
Donovan Rypkema is principal of PlaceEconomics and President of Heritage Strategies International. Rypkema is the author of numerous publications and a book, The Economics of Historic Preservation.
Leading preservation economist Donovan Rypkema, criticized the Obama administration on his “Place Economics” blog for proposing the elimination of the Preserve America and Save America’s Treasures programs, which the White House deemed as lacking “rigorous performance metrics and evaluation efforts so the benefits are unclear.”
“Benefits are unclear? If anyone had bothered to make the most basic of calculations they could not have said that with a straight face,” Rypkema wrote on February 8, adding SAT was founded during the Millennium celebrations and extended because of its success.
Applying National Park Service data to the Department of Commerce’s econometric model for economic impact, the award-winning economist also pointed out both programs contributed significantly to job creation:
“Between 1999 and 2009, the Save America’s Treasures program allocated around $220 million dollars for the restoration of nearly 900 historic structures, many of them National Historic Landmarks. This investment by the SAT program generated in excess of $330 million from other sources. This work meant 16,012 jobs (a job being one full time equivalent job for one year…the same way they are counting jobs for the Stimulus Program). The cost per job created? $13,780,” Rypkema wrote.
“This compares with the White House announcement that the Stimulus Package is creating one job for every $248,000. Whose program is helping the economy?”
Click here to read Rypkema’s blog.
The President’s proposed $3.83 trillion FY11 budget completely eliminates funding for two popular preservation grant programs—Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America. There is also a proposed $25 million cut to the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF). Funding for State Historic Preservation Offices, however, remains the same as last year, $46.5 million.
Save America’s Treasures, which began under the then First Lady Hillary Clinton, works to protect America’s threatened cultural treasures, such as historic structures and works of art that illuminate the history and culture of the United States. The program has helped local projects including, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, which received a $75,000 grant in 2002, and Save Ellis Island, which received a $1.18 million grant in 1999 for the Ferry Building and a $500,000 grant in 2000 for the Laundry/Hospital Outbuilding.
Launched in 2003 under First Lady Laura Bush, Preserve America is a Federal initiative that encourages and supports community efforts to preserve and enjoy cultural and natural heritage. The program gives smaller grants to promote heritage tourism and preservation planning.
Preservation Action, the national preservation lobby group, breaks down proposed preservation funding as follows: State Historic Preservation Offices, Tribal Historic Preservation Offices remain the same for fiscal year 2010 and 2011 at 46.5 million and 8 million respectively. Save America’s Treasures will go from $25 million in 2010 to zero in 2011. Preserve America’s $3.175 million 2010 funding (Funded through the Recreation and Preservation Account instead of the Historic Preservation Fund) drops to zero in 2011 as well. The total Historic Preservation Fund drops from $79.5 million in 2010 to $54.5 million in 2011.
The New York Landmark Conservancy works with Preservation Action and was in Washington, D.C. for National Preservation Lobby Day, Wednesday, March 3, to press for restoration funding.