Tyler residents gave input Wednesday on a Chicago historic preservation planning firm retained by the city to assist in developing a strategic historic preservation plan for Tyler that would strengthen the city's current program.
People who came to a community open house at the Smith County Historical Society milled about looking at a series of exhibits, asking questions and voting to express their views. The votes will be tallied and used by the firm, The Lakota Group, in developing the plan and reporting back to city officials.
Cade Sterling, a planner for The Lakota Group, greeted people as they arrived, asking them to review the exhibits, take part in interactive exercises and answer a questionnaire.
There were six different exhibits, the first ones informational, explaining the benefits of historic preservation, especially the economic incentive. Then the exhibits presented information about 30 individual properties in Tyler on the national register of historic places and over 100 on the Tyler register of historic places as well as individual historic districts.
For example, map exhibits showed national register historic districts for Charnwood, the Azalea district, the Short Line district and East Ferguson district.
Pictures showed numerous architectural styles in Tyler and construction dates.
In addition, the workshop featured five different interactive stations where people could locate properties they think are historic that are not on the local or national registers and vote using fake money on five different historic preservation types they think are important for the city to spend money on. Those include new districts and landmarks, downtown development, neighborhoods, education initiatives and heritage tourism.
They could also place a sticker showing the level of design review they favor in Tyler, from lenient to rigid.
Carol Kehl, president of Smith County Historical Society, who serves on the steering committee for strategic planning and lives in the Azalea District, said the exhibits and maps were "wonderful."
She added, "I think they are asking the right questions to get a lot of input."
At the station about levels of review, Kehl said, "To me, they haven't been high enough so I marked that as a high priority for new building and remodeling."
She has lived in other places where the review level was stronger than in Tyler.
"The point of the workshop was to get the community to tell us what some of the issues are regarding the role of preservation in Tyler in terms of how to revitalize downtown and how to revitalize neighborhoods," said Nick Kalogeresis, vice president of The Lakota Group.
"We are going to summarize the proceedings of the workshop and provide that back to the city. We are going to be coming back here in late October or so, delivering the first part of the historic preservation plan," Kalogeresis said.
The firm will be seeking input from the city and a steering committee the city established. It will return to Tyler in early 2017 to deliver the full draft of a historic preservation plan for the city, Kalogeresis said.
Ellen Musselman, a member of the Historic Tyler board, who is rotating off the city of Tyler Preservation board, said, "Historic preservation is our passion. I think (the planning firm) has done a nice job and hopefully we can get some other people here to understand what this is all about and we can get some things out of this preservation plan, maybe some stronger ordinances (for historic preservation)."