Housing Complex

Failed Historic Preservation Review Board Nominations Endanger the Whole Shebang

Back in November, we heard that Mayor Vince Gray had finally nominated two people to stick around past their already-expired terms on the Historic Preservation Review Board and two more to fill pending vacancies. It was a relief, given that only two members of the nine-person board haven't had their terms expire.

Well, turns out two of those long-delayed nominees don't want to serve anyway: newbie Niani Kilkenny and sitting board member Elinor Bacon both bowed out for personal reasons. To make matters worse, architectural historian Pamela Scott is also resigning, which leaves chairwoman Catherine Buell as the only current member. If you're going to take the better part of a year to even nominate someone, seems you'd want to make sure your nominee wants the job!

The problem is, the HPRB isn't like most other boards that have been half-empty for a while now. It's required by law to have experts qualified in history, architectural history, and archeology. The historian position has been vacant for a year now, and Scott's resignation will leave the board without an architectural historian. That's bothering Councilmember Tommy Wells, who oversees the board as part of the Office of Planning, and fired off a letter of concern to the mayor in December.

"Without all of the professional positions filled, the HPRB will not be in compliance with federal requirements, which could result in a revocation of grant funding, a suspension of the preservation program, and possible challenges to approved landmark applications," he wrote. "With our significant number of landmarks and historic districts, the critical role of the HPRB cannot be overemphasized. It is imperative that we fill the professional positions quickly so as not to jeopardize the Board's standing or decisions, as well as fill the citizen positions so that a quorum is always possible."

Wells' letter is after the jump.

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  • DC Guy

    Fail is right. Is this just a continuation of the gross incompetence associated with the hiring practices in he Gray administration?

  • PreservationAdvocate

    What is the Gray administration thinking? This is a mess.

  • styglan1

    Does this endanger any HPRB reviews that might need to happen? Do those go on hiatus (meaning development is on hiaitus) or is there a limit (e.g. 30 days) for review and action?

  • Anonymous

    What hasn't Vinny screwed up? I mean how stupid would anyone have to be to reappoint Crystal "Swag Bag" Palmer to head the Movie and TV office. Maybe they can convince Michael Lorusso to come back to property management.

    Everyone better taking this all seriously because the velocity of the regression is staggering. With one bad choice after another Vinny and his half wit crony Kwame et al are undoing what it took Tony Williams and Linda Cropp years of dogged work to fix.

    Beware, when it starts to affect your sacred property values it will be too late.

  • noodlez

    SO NOW FOLKS WANT TO BLAME MAYOR GRAY FOR THE LACK OF QUALIFIED FOLK LIVING IN WDC WANTING TO STEP UP TO THE PLATE WHEN YOU HAVE FOLKS LIKE JONETTA BARRAS LOOKING INTO EVERY APPOINTMENT BACKGROUND, EXPOSING FOLKS LIFE DEFICIENCIES AND THWARTING HIS EVERY MOVE! I WOULDNT WANT AN APPOINTMENT EITHER!

    WHERE WAS SHE WHEN THE SO CALLED A.G. NICKLES WAS ROLLING OUT TO NO. VIRGINIA EVERYDAY.

    @ANONYMOUS-YOU MISSED THE FAILED FLENTY ADMINISTRATION!!!

  • Dark Menace

    The clue as to "why" is right there in Wells's letter...

    "[P]ossible challenges to approved landmark applications" from... whom?

    Developers.

    You do the math as to how this might figure into the continuation of the Gray administration.

  • jimbo

    Once again instead of any substantive action Councilmartyr Wells (Dbag-6) fires off a letter of "concern." What a waste of a council seat.

  • DC Guy

    What is he supposed to do instead? He can't make the appointments.

  • Hillman

    Have to agree with other posters here. Filling vacancies like these is a basic responsibility of the Mayors office. He is apparently unable to fulfill this basic job.

    But, hey, he sure can make sure we pay double on city contracts to ensure "local hiring".

    And really isn't that why many of his supporters supported him to begin with? As long as the gravy train rolls on....

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  • Bert

    Former AG Nickles could have lived in Florida for all I care -- DC owes him a huge debt of gratitude for starting the investigation into Harry "I did it for the kids" Thomas.

    And while we're on the subject of government employees living in DC: All things being equal, they should. But I note that the DC residency rule seems to be applied selectively. There seem to be an awful number of DC government employees who commute daily from "Ward 9" - aka PG (yet magically snare lottery spots to enroll their kids in DSPS schools!)

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