Housing Complex

All-New Historic Preservation Review Board Nominees, Same As the Old Ones

Way back in April, I received word that Mayor Vince Gray had picked his nominees for the Historic Preservation Review Board. And then...nothing. No official nominations, to the tremendous frustration of the historic preservation community, as all but two of the board members' terms expired, and board meetings sometimes even went without a quorum. I heard that one nominee in particular, Nancy Metzger of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society—and the driving force behind the opposition to the Heritage Foundation's third floor addition—had been protested by business interests. The other newbie, Niani Kilkenny, had credentials that may not fit the letter of the National Park Service's requirements for the position of historian.

Turns out the concerns weren't enough to make Gray change his mind. Yesterday, he told the annual meeting of the Committee of 100 that he'd chosen to reappoint current board members Elinor Bacon and Maria Casarella, and go ahead with Metzger and Kilkenny. So these confirmation hearings will be fun to watch.

  • Hill Feller

    I don't think Nancy Metzger is on the CHRS board. She is, however, Chair of the CHRS Historic Preservation Committee which is charged with evaluating activities in the Historic District and then testifying before the HPRB.

    Things would be a lot easier if Nancy and her husband Norm, the ANC Commissioner, were mean-spirited jerks but they just aren't. They are unfailingly polite and gracious. The problem is that they are also unfailingly polite and gracious in advocating for positions that put Historic Preservation over absolutely everything else.

    Nancy stopped letting new data about the the evolving needs and wants of the Capitol Hill community impact her thinking about historic preservation long ago. Today, she is remorselessly advocating (and, yes, litigating) an absolutist preservation agenda that is out of date and is smothering development on the Hill.

    Yes, the CHRS is actively involved in Stanton Development's work on the Hine school; but, consider the many projects and investments that business people and homeowners have not even started because they have watched efforts to develop the 1200 block of Pennsylvania go down in flames, efforts to tear down the shotgun house at 1229 E St. and replace it with a historically appropriate single-family residence be vociferously opposed, and seen innumerable neighborhood activists use the Historic Preservation process to grind various axes and create and win a war of attrition.

    Nancy is a great person but an implacable obstacle to rational historic preservation and economic growth on the Hill.

    Interesting hearings, indeed.

  • DC Guy

    These do not sounds like "One City" appointments.

  • Ward 6 Resident

    Hill Feller is correct. Poor Nancy and Norm have hardened into non thinking advocates for a particular agenda regardless of what rational and fact based opposition developes. Mayor Gray may find that Nancy represents the views and interests of those who have long ago taken up residence in Congressional Cemetary.

  • Barney Circle Resident

    I'll take Hill Feller's word that Nancy and Norm are nice people. I wouldn't say they were mean, but my dealings with them during the Barney Circle HD experience left me finding them to be unbending proponents of historic designation no matter the cost or public taste for it.

    I fear this nomination will make the HPRB an even bigger rubber stamp for anyone approaching the board with a historic designation request. I certainly hope that if appointed Nancy will recuse herself from voting should Barney Circle come before the board again ... though I'd bet my house she won't.

  • Luke

    The only way to stop this is for people, particularly in Ward 6 and Barney Circle, to voice their opinions to the Mayor and Councilmember Wells. Get anyone you can think of involved.

    This is a lousy choice.

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