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Update: Since the Sept. 26 print edition went to press, the Enterprise has confirmed that a Gravel Switch Historic District is also on the agenda of today's meeting in Springfield of the Kentucky Historic Preservation Review Board. Both the Loretto and Gravel Switch historic district proposals are part of a proposal to create historic districts in Crossroad Communities in Marion and Washington County. The Washington County districts include Mackville and Willisburg.
The State Historic Preservation Office sent a letter dated Aug. 17 to citizens of Loretto about the possibility of creating a historic district in their community. For many residents of the city, this was not welcome news.
"I read it, but it didn't make much sense to me," Loretto Mayor Robert Miles said.
Maybe that confusion is why a petition was organized to oppose the creation of the Loretto Historic District. Miles said he's heard from many residents who are concerned about how a historic area could affect them.
For what it's worth, the map that I saw appears to include the entire city.
"They think maybe this outfit will come over and tell us how to run our town," Miles said.
Loretto City Attorney Elmer George also received a copy of the letter, and he has been looking into the situation. The letter certainly raises some questions.
First, why was a meeting held Aug. 23 in the Marion County Public Library in Lebanon to discuss the National Register process for Loretto?
Second, why has a review board meeting been scheduled for 10 a.m. Sept. 26 (today) at the Opera House in Springfield, where the possible Loretto district will be discussed?
I wish I'd learned about this letter sooner so I could have done more research. Regardless, I do think the people of Loretto deserved the courtesy of a meeting in their own city to discuss the creation of a historic district there. Either Loretto City Hall or the St. Francis Parish Center could host a community meeting.
The letter also notes that questions should be directed to Marty Perry, the Kentucky Heritage Council's National Register coordinator. I tried to call Perry but had to leave a message.
I know George called Perry, too, to request that they cancel the Sept. 26 meeting and reschedule in Loretto at a time that is more convenient for the citizens. George also had to leave a message.
While I know the petition has gone around opposing the historic district, based on the letter, I wonder if the state agencies will receive it. The Aug. 17 letter reads, "If you wish to object to the nomination, you must submit a notarized letter to this office stating that you object to the nomination. " That emphasis was by the Historic Preservation Office, not me.
Personally, I can't say if creating a Loretto Historic District would be good or bad.
Obviously, the Kentucky Heritage Council supports the creation of the district. An attachment with the letter identifies benefits like planning projects, limited protection to properties, and tax credits to rehabilitation of historic homes. The attachment also reads that property owners do not lose their rights when a property is added to the National Register. Owners will not have any greater maintenance responsibilities, nor are they prohibited from making changes to their property.
While all of that may be true, a significant number of people in Loretto are skeptical. A meeting in Loretto could go a long way in clearing up any misunderstandings.
Here's hoping that happens.