Historic Preservation Commission requests Quality Growth Funds

The facade of the Dixon’s building in downtown North Platte is one of the successful projects that is part of the rehabilitation and Historic Preservation effort. The North Platte Historical Preservation Commission requested funds to further the facade project in hopes more businesses will add to the historic atmosphere.

The North Platte Historic Preservation Commission applied for Quality Growth Funds in the amount of $150,000 in additional funds to continue the Facade Improvement Program that began in 2017.

The QGF Committee heard the request presentation on Friday and approved the application 5-0 to send it on to the North Platte City Council for consideration.

Stephen Granger, chairman of the Preservation Commission, spoke to the purpose of the request.

“The program has been going good — and not so good,” Granger said. “It’s been a learning process for everybody on the committee, which is good.”

He said some of the projects that have been completed have turned out very well.

“The best ones that we’ve been dealing with probably have been the Blakely Enterprises project-Mutual Savings and Loan and the Dixon Building,” Granger said. “They’ve done major improvements to those facilities.”

Granger mentioned a couple of projects that were approved for funds allocations have not begun. One criteria for receiving the funds is that the project must first be completed and approved by the Commission and he said it is uncertain when or if the projects in question will take place.

QGF Committee member Pat Keenan questioned why some projects have not gotten off the ground.

“I’m just wondering, it seems like some took off and ran and we have a whole bunch of others in limbo,” Keenan said. “What’s the reason?”

Granger said he guessed it was a funding issue and what the business owner could afford to do.

On its application, the Commission cited a study by the Center for Urban Policy Research, October 2007, titled “Economic Impacts of Historic Preservation in Nebraska.” The report stated that “history doesn’t ever go away; it is always a part of our lives. We must recognize, preserve, energize, share and encourage the use of history as a mirror to the past and a telescope to the future ... Various studies across the nation have shown that history preserves urban neighborhoods and rural towns with clear benefits measured in the hard light of property values and tourism dollars on the economic side and a clear improvement in the qualify of life enjoyed by a significant number of citizens of every background and economic situation.”

The QGF Committee also approved a request from The North Platte Area Chamber and Development Corporation for funds to assist with the Buxton Agreement. Buxton provides data and proprietary technologies in growth strategies to help the Chamber develop planning for business enhancement.

In February 2018, the Chamber signed a three-year agreement with Buxton at $50,000 a year to react and further assist local entities to gain retailers and fill space.

The Chamber board of directors has committed $30,000 to the contract from private sector business incentive investment partners for year two and is requesting $20,000 from the QGF to fulfill the commitment made for year two, as well as a renewable amount of $20,000 for year three beginning in February 2020.

Quality Growth Fund Committee members are Bob Phares, Pat Keenan, Kim Steger, Josh Harm and Brock Wurl.

The applications will go before the City Council for final approval at its meeting on April 16.

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