Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Complaints --- but progress, too

About all a guy can do after getting up late (after 5 a.m. for heaven's sake) and not having time to write what was planned before a self-imposed 7 a.m. deadline --- is post the weather map. And complain.

That big orange splotch in the middle of the map is us. It's hot and looks like it will stay that way --- highs in the upper 90s and dry --- into the weekend.

It always seems to get hot here after school starts, but this is ridiculous, or so it seems.

I'll finish up the tombstone tour at big Jones Cemetery tomorrow. We lucked out on weather for that one. It was overcast and cool: No sweat.


I spent a little time yesterday scrambling for the answers to questions about a couple of historic buildings downtown as architectural historian Molly Myers Naumann wraps up phase one of Chariton's National Historic District application for the town square.

This is a long and complicated process, but Molly plans to submit her first draft of the application to the State Historic Preservation Office later this week for review. It most likely will bounce back and forth a few times before it's presented to the state advisory panel in the spring (that group meets just twice a year), then if it clears the panel --- off to Washington, D.C., for final consideration.

We're also expecting fairly soon formal announcements from the Iowa Economic Development Authority regarding facade improvement grants that would help to change the face of several Iowa cities, including Chariton. The outlook is good --- but it's the IEDA's prerogative to make the announcements and fill in the details.

In addition, grant-funded construction (with owner match) also is likely to begin soon on the upper levels of three buildings on the square, converting unused space into classy apartments. 

The grant was awarded months ago, but because both grant funds and historic buildings are involved planning must conform to Department of the Interior and State Historic Preservation Office guidelines --- and that's a complicated back-and-forth process. 

Windows continue to be added, as they're restored and shipped back to Chariton, to the Hotel Charitone as that project moves toward hoped-for completion before the end of the year.

And meetings have begun to explore the intricacies and expense of developing a comprehensive "streetscape" plan for the square. This is a complicated (and expensive) process, too, since it involves a lot more than hiring someone to draw pretty pictures of what we'd like the square to look like in 10, 20 or more years.

It also involves pulling together all there is to know about infrastructure --- aging and outdated underground and above-ground utilities, lighting, streets, sidewalks and more. A resulting streetscape plan then would provide a detailed and firm foundation as plans are made for construction and reconstruction.

So these continue to be fairly exciting times in Chariton --- even though it's too darned hot at the moment and progress seems some days to advance at a crawl.

As you might imagine, everyone complains now and then about how long it takes to get projects like this off the ground. We play the complain game at the museum, too, when dealing with far smaller grants that in order to be utilized require extensive state-approved planning and conformance to guidelines.

On the other hand, tax money is involved in all of this. And there would be a lot more justifiable complaining if it were expended carelessly.


Now I've got to make sure the planters are watered before the day heats up --- and pick tomatoes.

1 comment:

Denny B said...

Thanks for all YOU do.