The 1980 amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act established the Certified Local Government (CLG) program to give local governments a formal voice in the national historic preservation conversation.
Let’s call out the super-powers of metaphor to explain this relationship. I often like to use the fabulously versatile bungee cord. Yes, the thing you use to keep your bike attached to the bike rack on your car or for a dozen other things. Imagine the CLG program as a bungee cord. It can expand. It can reinforce. In this metaphor, the CLG bungee cord connects the National Park Service to State Historic Preservation Offices to municipalities to citizens. The CLG bungee cord carries the energy and economic connection between the national preservation program and a local preservation program for participating local governments. Broad guidelines have been established by the National Park Service that provide the framework for participation in the CLG program; however, states have wide latitude to tailor the program to best assist the characteristics of their local governments.
Over the past 3+ years, the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) has been taking a hard look at the CLG Program. Pennsylvania currently has 45 Certified Local Governments, spread across 22 counties, which benefit from the CLG program (you can see the map of participating municipalities at the end of this post). Our CLG soul searching resulted in the following goal we aim to achieve over the next several years:
The Certified Local Government Program promotes and supports holistic historic preservation programs and policies in Pennsylvania municipalities.
To reach that goal, we have begun introducing program changes to better assist Pennsylvania’s CLGs operate a sustainable local preservation program.
The National Historic Preservation Act requires State Historic Preservation Offices to sub grant at least 10% of the State’s annual appropriation from the Historic Preservation Fund to its CLGs. Additional funding is an attractive incentive for municipalities, however the CLG program is much more than just another government grant. It has helped institutionalize historic preservation into local government policy. CLG grants support a wide range of projects, including building reuse and feasibility studies, public education, and survey and planning efforts.
In Pennsylvania, we believe our CLGs are model communities and thus CLG funding should boost local initiatives and transform preservation activities from grassroots efforts to policy. To further support the efforts of Pennsylvania’s CLGs, the SHPO adjusted grant funding last year to emphasize and encourage historic preservation best practices.
Federal fiscal year 2015 CLG grants were awarded to nine municipalities from eleven eligible applicants. Grant amounts range from $3,750 to $23,600. Below is a summary of this year’s CLG grant projects:
- Gettysburg Borough – Funding for the Central PA CLG circuit rider pilot program Year 2 which will provide technical assistance and training for 3 CLG’s (Gettysburg, Mercersburg & Bellefonte).
- City of Pittsburgh – Funding for Phase 3 of 6 of Pittsburgh’s architectural survey which will also update the city’s and the SHPO’s Geographic Information Systems.
- City of Williamsport – Funding for public educational workshops as well as to support historic preservation specialist staff to administer the local historic district.
- City of Lancaster – Funding to create a digital video, hold a workshop to educate contractors, and to support historic preservation specialist staff to administer local districts.
- City of Reading – Funding to hire a consultant to update Prince and Penn’s Common Historic District’s survey, develop educational brochures, and help to administer local historic districts.
- City of Bradford – Funding to develop design guidelines for the local historic district.
- Lower Merion Township – Funding to hire a consultant to update the township’s historic property inventory.
- City of Allentown – Funding to hire a consultant to help administer the local historic district.
- City of York – Funding to hire professional staff to provide public education and help administer the local historic district.
Building on the success of the FORUM 2014 in Philadelphia, where scholarships enabled 50 individuals from 16 CLG communities to attend the conference, the SHPO is again setting aside scholarship funding to all CLGs to attend historic preservation-related conferences and workshops in an effort to help strengthen local CLG program administration. Scholarships will be awarded through a competitive application process in the near future.