Historic Preservation FY12 Budget – HELP!

An important message from the National Trust for Historic Preservation:

Take Action on Funding for Historic Preservation!  Ask your Representative to Support the Historic Preservation Fund!

Right now Congress is making important decisions about the Fiscal Year 2012 budget, and your Representative needs to hear that funding for historic preservation matters in your community. You can help make the case for preservation!

Ask your Representative to sign on to the Dear Colleague letter sponsored by Congressional Historic Preservation Caucus co-chairs Michael Turner and Russ Carnahan that requests $70 million for the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) and ask that they also submit a programmatic request to fund the HPF at that amount for FY12.

The preservation community realizes that during tough economic times we all need to tighten our belts and therefore the FY12 funding request for the HPF is 10% less than the total funding these programs received in FY08. We also recognize a long overdue increase for funding to State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPO’s) and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPO’s) and support the administration’s budget request for increase to these programs. The breakdown of our $70 million request for the Historic Preservation Fund includes:

  • * $50 million for the SHPO’s
  • * $11 million for THPO’s
  • * $9 million for grant programs like Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America

The deadline for this action is Tuesday, May 17th, so please contact your Representative TODAY. Check here for a list of signatories who have already committed to the Dear Colleague letter, and for questions or additional information contact policy@nthp.org.

PLEASE HELP! Programs, jobs, historic resources — so much depends on this Historic Preservation Fund budget. All you have to do is sign the letter. You don’t even have to write the letter or look up the appropriate representative. It will take seconds.

SIGN THE LETTER HERE.

Spread the word. Ask your colleagues and friends to sign. Thank you!


More on the Preservation Budget

There are debates all around about the Save America’s Treasures program and whether it’s a good or a bad thing for it to be cut from the budget. From what I can gather, the majority feel it’s a bad move on the part of Congress. Even if you’re not a fan of the Save America’s Treasures program, the fact of the matter is that Congress feels it appropriate and permissible to slash the historic preservation budget (that includes park funding!) It’s not as if an alternate program has been proposed in place of one that supposedly does not work. It is simply an attack on historic preservation, a field that only wants to improve the quality of life in this country and has proven again and again that historic preservation works.

Because this is such an important issue, I’m sharing links from Donovan Rypkema’s blog, both of which he encouraged others to link. So here you go, the links and select quotes, but go ahead and read the entire posts:

Preservationists Outraged as Obama Cancels Building Restoration Programs by Lloyd Alter

We have noted before that the greenest brick is the one already in the wall, and that renovation and restoration are labor-intensive, giving twice as much stimulus bang for the buck than new construction. They are green jobs, creating more efficient buildings and saving energy at a lot less cost than covering the roofs with solar panels.

But that didn’t stop President Obama from cancelling two programs, Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America, that cost $220 million over ten years. The White House says “Both programs lack rigorous performance metrics and evaluation efforts so the benefits are unclear.”

Except that isn’t true, there are performance metrics, that prove that the programs created jobs at 1/18th the cost of last year’s stimulus programs.

What’s Obama got Against Historic Preservation? by Knute Berger

The Save America’s Treasures program, created by Bill Clinton in 1998, is the only federal bricks-and-mortar grant program for preservation and is designed to leverage matching private sector and non-profit funding for projects. It is run by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in conjunction with the National Park Service. It has been slated for elimination…

On top of those cuts, Obama has proposed slashing National Heritage Area funding in half, bad news for Washington state which is in the process of creating a National Maritime Heritage Area to boost cultural tourism in coastal areas, from the Pacific to Puget Sound.

So what are we supposed to do? Keep talking, keep sharing, keep caring about the fate of historic preservation. This is a field that faces uphill battles day after day, something we acknowledge when we “sign up” for a life of historic preservation work, and at some point, we all have to convince others of the worth of preservation. It looks like it’s that time again. Let’s keep historic preservation in the game.

Historic Preservation Budget at Risk

While historic preservation involves beliefs, theories, ethics, local organizations, grass-roots movements, and more, the success of historic preservation as a national program is very much dependent on politics and the federal budget. Federal programs like Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America are able to operate because of federal funding. Both are proven successful programs: saving important pieces of American heritage, improving the economy, and being overall win-win programs.

Many people have already heard, but for those not in the loop of preservation news: about two weeks ago the White House announced that the 2011 budget would eliminate ALL of the funding for both Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America, citing that the programs lasted longer than planned and apparently the lawmakers in Washington are not happy with their performance.

Eliminating Save America’s Treasures alone means already a 25% decrease in the preservation funding. Twenty-five percent!! There are a lot of knowledgeable people blogging about these budget cuts and what it will do to historic preservation, so rather than reiterate everything they are saying, here are a few snippets and the original sources.

[If you know the story already and want to help, click here and tell your Congressmen what you think — it takes one minute, if that!]

From Donovan Rypkema’s blog, Place Economics:

Naively I sincerely believed that as we have broadened the definition of the roles that historic preservation plays in society, as we have documented the wide range of positive economic impacts of historic preservation, as we have demonstrated the contribution of historic preservation to Smart Growth, sustainable development, affordable housing, downtown revitalization – that after all of this I thought our message had finally gotten through…

This announcement had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the federal deficit. The rounding errors in the budgeting process are ten times greater than the annual amount spent on these two programs combined. Here’s the analogy. You have a household income of $80,000 per year, but decide “We need to cut back.” So what do you do? Eliminate $0.04 from your monthly expenditures. That’s right…four cents a month of an $80,000 a year income is the equivalent of these cuts…

Most of the developed countries in the world had a major heritage conservation component in their stimulus packages. Why? jobs, job training, local impact, labor intensity, affects industry most adversely affected, impacts local economies, long term investment, etc. etc. Historic preservation element in the US stimulus plan? $0.

Also from Donovan Rypkema, an explanation of the Save America’s Treasures effectiveness:

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.

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?

Dwight Young, for the National Trust of Historic Preservation, further discussing Save America’s Treasures:

Since its establishment in 1998, Save America’s Treasures has been a hugely successful tool for preserving the buildings, structures, documents, and works of art that tell America’s story – and for creating jobs and boosting local economies, too. The program has spotlighted some world-famous icons like the Star-Spangled Banner, Mesa Verde, and Ellis Island. It has also opened people’s eyes to the importance (and fragility) of the lesser-known treasures in their own hometowns. That alone, if you ask me, makes it a great program…

Major chunks of our history are represented in these irreplaceable places and things, and Save America’s Treasures has helped ensure that we can continue to experience and learn from them. Given all that it has accomplished, it’s easy to see why this terrific program has earned the right to have “treasures” in its name – and why we have to make sure it doesn’t disappear.

From Pat Lally, for the National Trust for Historic Preservation:

But here’s the biggest irony in the President’s Budget Request (and a little-known fact). Technically speaking, Save America’s Treasures and the other core national preservation programs under the HPF cost the American taxpayer nothing. You see, this account, by law, is funded by the revenue received from offshore oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf. Years ago, Congress had the foresight to place historic preservation in this dedicated account along with other “conservation” activities. Their rationale was that as non-renewable resources are expended (such as fossil fuels), some of the associated revenue should help pay for the conservation and preservation of other non-renewable resources, such as sensitive ecosystems and nationally-significant buildings, collections, and objects.

Makes sense, right? Well, the problem is that both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue have budgeted much of this money for purposes other than historic preservation, and that simply has to stop. In fact, some of the other conservation activities that are funded by oil and gas leasing revenue are increased substantially in this Budget Request, just as we were slashed. It seems to me that preservationists need to make it loud and clear to their lawmakers as to why we need every penny of the $150 million that we’re supposed to get from Washington every year.

The final irony is that, among federal programs, Save America’s Treasures stands out as a model of efficiency and effective spending. You see, every grant recipient under this program is required to find a dollar-for-dollar, non-federal match. To date, Save America’s Treasures at the National Trust has raised almost $57 million in non-federal and private matching funds. As a result, Save America’s Treasures has been enormously successful in leveraging private-sector financing and creating productive and sustained partnerships with large corporations, foundations, and individuals that provide matching contributions. Here is just a small glimpse into some of the places and things that Save America’s Treasures has helped preserve for future generations: Ellis Island, Mesa Verde National Park, Valley Forge, Thomas Edison’s Invention Factory, and the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the “Star Spangled Banner.

And those are just some of the blog posts, but more can be found on the National Trust website and Save America’s Treasures website.

What does this mean? It’s not good. But it is the proposed budget so there is still time to act. The easiest, fastest step that preservation friends can take is to tell Congressmen. That link is a form that takes maybe one minute to fill out – with a name and address it will automatically send it to the appropriate Congressmen.

Historic preservation is not a frivolous endeavor; it is proven to boost the economy, which be a major point for people who are only worried about the economy right now. As Pat Lally said, it does not make sense to cut the budget for Save America’s Treasures or more broadly, historic preservation.

Do something! It’s incredibly to click that link and fill out your name. Send it to everyone you know. If we don’t save historic preservation programs, we’ll be taking a giant step backwards and many people will be without jobs — how does that help the economy?

Here’s the url in case the link didn’t work: https://secure2.convio.net/nthp/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=536

Road Trip Reflections

Before Vinny and I left on our road trip, we decided to establish a few tenets for our trip. Number one, we would stick to a budget of $100 per day. Number two, no chain hotels or restaurants.  We chose these tenets to keep the trip affordable, to prove that interstates and chains are avoidable in most cases, to prove that road trips that support local businesses can fit the budget of the everyday American, and also just to add a challenge to our planning. Number three, we would travel state highways and US highways, not interstates, except for sections of getting in, around, and out of big cities.

How did we do? Well, as for the $100 per day budget, sometimes we were over, sometimes we were under. We hadn’t exactly thought of this from the get-go, but because each day is different, the budget needs to be moved around on some days. For example, a day of staying at a campground and just hanging around often didn’t require much money, except for some food, firewood, and the camping fee. A day of all driving, buying groceries for the next few days, and then staying at a campground often reached just at the budget because everything adds up quickly. Mackinac Island was our most expensive day, and we knew it would be. That day added to around $150 (ferry tickets, bike rentals, fudge, lunch, campground – really the ferry tickets ate the budget that day). But other days, like camping in Ohio or Indiana fell more around $75 or $80.  Thus, our budget was not completely accurate, but we did our best to stick to it and never felt like we were blatantly ignoring it. It was always a consideration and if we were rich travelers, then we probably would have spent more.  So we spent what we figured. It’s a good rule of thumb to always (in the back of your head) plan on spending more than originally planned when traveling.

Our answer: yes, it is possible to spend $100 per day for a road trip for two people. Our biggest parts of that were camping the entire way, shopping in grocery stores and stocking up for two days (don’t forget the ice!), and eating only one meal out per day if we wanted to eat out somewhere.

As far as no chain hotels or restaurants, we did our absolute best. The majority of the time, we did a great job. However, there were a few slip-ups. The first one was staying at the Indian Creek RV Resort in Geneva-on-the-lake, Ohio. Originally we planned to stay at Geneva State Park, but that required a two night stay, so I had to quickly find somewhere else. After I booked it, I found out that it is actually owned by a much larger company.  We didn’t make that mistake again. Then, while looking for breakfast in downtown South Bend, Indiana, we saw a restaurant called La Peep. The menu looked good and it was downtown near the old theater, so we figured it would be worth a shot. As we were sitting inside, looking around, and reading the menu, I had a feeling that it was a chain. When I looked at the back of the menu, I realized it was – a Midwestern and western chain. We obviously had never heard of it. For the record, the breakfast was not as good as many of the local places where we ate. And then one night, we stayed in a hotel in Beloit, Wisconsin. This came out of necessity, after arriving at our planned campground to find a domestic disturbance dispute and many arguments at the campsite right next to us. For a variety of reasons, we decided to leave. So we started driving around rural southern Wisconsin in hopes of finding somewhere to stay. It was late and we knew that we should take what we find. We knew the hotels would be near the interstate, so we headed that way in the dark past many farm fields. We ended up at a Holiday Inn Express and just accepted that it was obviously against the no-chain rule. But, desperate times call for desperate measures. That day was another one over budget.

For the most part, we did avoid all chains except for grocery stores and gas stations. We found great restaurants and campgrounds and enjoyed all of them.

Interstates or state & US highways? This has the most complications, since we did choose to travel the interstate in some instances. They included: getting out of New York and New Jersey, getting out of Detroit, Michigan (until we could jump on a highway), getting into and out of Minneapolis, MN, going to Milwaukee, and heading home from Columbus, Ohio.  So we’re not perfect and often had we planned better, we could have spent the extra time on the interstate. One thing that this trip taught us was that sometimes the interstates are much better for getting from place to place. The smaller highways aren’t built for interstate traffic and sometimes they were slow, as if we were on Long Island. Sometimes the interstates were the same roads as US highways, making it so we were on both at once. We confirmed our belief that interstates are boring. When we did choose the interstate, we were always more tired and restless without scenery along our way. We always hoped that the journey would end sooner, because then it was just miles, it wasn’t really a trip. So, when we have the option and the time, we will always choose the scenic roads and the byways. It can be done easily, it just needs to be planned.

We enjoyed the trip very much, though we probably wouldn’t repeat the same route as it was not our favorite trip ever planned. However, we wanted to see that part of the country and we are glad we did. (I’m still dying for the Rocky Mountain west road trip – someday.)  A few friends asked us what our least favorite thing was that we saw. I thought about it for a while and then I realized that in many places, I felt as though I couldn’t tell you where we were because everything looked the same, like Anywhere, USA. Sometimes I felt like I was on Long Island. Chains started because people appreciated and wanted the same thing – cleanliness, operations, food, lodging – to make home away from home. However, when I travel, I don’t want to be home. I want to be somewhere new and see something new, as many of us do. Seeing the same restaurants, stores, and hotels everywhere sometimes made me ask why I had left home. That is another reason Vinny and I chose to go the non-chain route – to appreciate the different parts of America.

Maybe the tides are changing, and Americans will want unique food, lodging, and shopping everywhere. Maybe someday the chains will not be what takes over the country and corporate America will be totally different. I have to believe that because it would be such a shame to have no need to travel anywhere, knowing that every place was the same as the one before and the one after it.

Luckily, that feeling of sameness didn’t happen everywhere and we really did enjoy our Great Lakes Road Trip 2009. We tend to travel many places at once, because we like to take an overview of a region to see where we would like to return and spend more time. Not everyone prefers to travel this way, but it’s what Vinny and I do. And while we traveled these 3,641 miles, we came across places we would have never found otherwise. Wrong turns and happenstance directions sometimes lead you the best way.

Thanks for reading along with the Road Trip Reports.

Road Trip Report 1

July 14 marks day 6 of the Great Lakes Road Trip 2009 for Vinny and me.  We’ve traveled through New York and New Jersey (mostly just to get out of both), through Pennsylvania with stops along the way, stayed a while in Ohio, and now we are in Michigan. It is the perfect time of year for these states, in terms of the climate.

We are generally without internet, so no pictures for now, but I’ll share some highlights and updates of our road trip stipulations.

On the no-interstate factor? As we had planned, we took the interstates to get out of New York and New Jersey, since we’d never get out otherwise.  We cannot imagine taking 25A all the way from Suffolk County to the Cross Island Parkway – we’d still be there. But once we got to our destination in Pennsylvania, we have stuck to our no interstate policy. This led us to a very long detour off Route 6 in Pennsylvania, and a less than impressive Route 20 through Ohio into Cleveland. However, so many interesting sites and beautiful towns have made up for the hassle of the highways. We’re learning that there are definitely times for the interstate and times for the highways and byways. That however deserves more consideration.

On the no-chains factor? So far so good, except for groceries and gas, which cannot be avoided. We have some really good meals at locally owned places, including a particularly good breakfast at Bobby’s Kitchen in Monroe, Michigan.

On the $100 day budget? Well, of course, it’s easy if we’re staying with family or friends who give us a place to stay and send us with coffee and lunch for the road. That was day 1. The other days, so far, we’ve been sticking to our budget average. Some days cost more than others depending on how far we drive or what attractions we visit. Some days cost much less than $100, some cost a bit more.  We’re camping throughout the trip and we only eat out one meal per day, which is our trick to a tight budget. If you love campfires and marshmallows, camping is the way to go.

Highlights along the way: Route 6 in PA, Geneva-on-the-lake in Ohio, Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, East Harbor State Park in Ohio, and the Ford Rogue Factory Tour in Dearborn Michigan. We’ve seen gorgeous towns and some interesting sites – pictures to come once we get to a campground that has some internet.

Great Lakes Road Trip 2009

Today,* Thursday July 9, 2009, begins “Great Lakes Road Trip 2009!”

Vinny and I have mapped a route from Long Island, New York through the Midwest, the Great Lakes region, and back (with some undetermined points along the way). In the spirit of historic preservation, Independent America, scenic routes, blue highways, byways, good road trip stories, visiting new places, and a budget we have come up with a few standard rules we’ll abide by along our travels.

As you can probably guess, the standards we have set for ourselves are: 1) no chain hotels or restaurants; 2) as little interstate mileage as possible; and the biggest one 3) do our best to stick to a budget of $100 per day for everything – food, gas, lodging, activities, etc.

Stipulations: Gas is not included in the no chains rule. Any other things like grocery stores will have to be decided as we go. If you have suggestions, write them below.

The purpose is to show that it is possible have a great time without taking the interstate, staying in chain motels, eating at chain restaurants, and visiting typical modern tourist destinations.  The American road trip, independent style, is still possible as just two travelers. We don’t have a film crew or sponsors or anything else. It’s just an experiment. So, whether you are soon-to-be graduate student, a preservationist, an adventure seeker, or you are just on a budget, hopefully Preservation in Pink can offer a bit of inspiration and possible guidance.

Can we do it? I’ll let you know.  For the next 2 – 2.5 weeks or approximately 4,000 miles, I’ll be posting all road trip related blogs. They might be about our struggles to find only mom & pop establishments (or maybe the ease of it!), our stops along the way, lodging, historic sites, interesting photographs, or anything else road trip & preservation related. Posts will not necessarily be five days per week, but at least three days. And at the end, I’ll be sure to have a summary and results of the travel experiment.

First stop: Pennsylvania!

*We left Long Island at 5:30am.

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Quotes to travel by:

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

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Side note: Be sure to read Lauren McMillan’s final Adventures in the Field post tomorrow, Friday July 10.