Conference focuses on preserving history

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- Historic Preservation officials from around the state converged on Albany Friday for a state conference centered around local, state and federal preservation efforts, programs and resources.

It's Albany's first time hosting the event, which is a compliment to preservation efforts under way locally, Albany-Dougherty Historic Preservation Committee Chairman Greg Fullerton said.

"This conference allows us to host people from around the state -- volunteer and professional -- to see what we've done and what we're hoping to do here in Albany," Fullerton said.

The conference features a variety of seminars on topics related to preserving historical properties, including utilizing state and federal funding tools, legal issues, tax credits and other incentives.

Many county and municipal HPC's across the state and struggling to find a balance between preserving historic structures and places and a desire from the business community for new development.

Georgia Alliance of Preservation Commissions Board Member Ken Kocher gave a seminar Friday speaking to that issue and others. During his presentation, "Drawing the Line: Designating a Local District," Kocher took questions from participants, one of which asked the best way to help deal with those in political power who may not fully understand the value of historic preservation, especially in rural or older counties.

"It's a struggle sometimes because you're dealing with people who aren't as familiar with the issues as others in terms of preservation and its values," Kocher said. "So sometimes there has to be a real educational effort, not just for the general public but also for those who make the decisions. It's sad to say, but sometimes when that doesn't work, you have to educate through the election process."

The conference, which continues today, includes tours of some of Albany and Dougherty County's most historic places. From the Bridge House to some of the churches that were pivotal to advancing the Civil Rights Movement, participants are set to tour the various areas while in town.

"This is an educational event that is commingled with an attempt to show our large amount of historic properties and potential," Fullerton said. "But beyond that, having these people here allows for the cross-fertilization of ideas that may help get certain projects off the ground."