WEST PITTSTON —A meeting co-hosted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission will be held Thursday to explore the pros and cons of listing a section of the borough on the National Register.
Peter Herrick of FEMA will be joined by Bryan Van Sweden of PHMC to explain the process for formally listing the potential historic district, as well as potential financial incentives.
Herrick said FEMA, at this point, isn’t actually making the designation of a historic district.
“Based on our research, the borough is potentially eligible for a historic district,” Herrick said. “They would have to pursue the application process with the National Park Service. After the meeting, FEMA will provide the community with its research which can be used if they decide to apply.”
Herrick said as a result of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011, the community and Commonwealth identified properties for acquisition by FEMA. Part of the acquisition process requires a review for potential environmental or historic preservation impact.
“FEMA determined that there was a potentially eligible historic district and by law, there must be a remediation effort because of an impact on historic preservation,” Herrick said. “The Commonwealth requested that the remediation efforts be completed through a presentation on West Pittston’s history, hence the meeting on next Thursday.”
PHMC spokesman Howard Pollman said the National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official listing of properties recognized for their significance in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture. He said National Register properties include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects. They can be significant to a local community, a state, an Indian tribe or the nation as a whole.
Pollman said listing in the National Register contributes to preserving historic properties in a number of ways:
• Recognition that a property is of significance to the nation, the state, or local community.
• Eligibility for federal tax incentives for income-producing buildings.
• State and federal preservation grants for planning and rehabilitation of buildings owned by not-for-profit organizations and local governments.
• Consideration in the planning for state and federal projects or projects that are assisted by state or federal agencies.
Pollman said the National Register does not restrict the rights of property owners or require that properties be maintained, repaired or restored. He said property owners are not required to follow preservation standards on their properties unless they wish to qualify for tax benefits, nor are property owners required to allow public access to their property.
National Register listing does not place obligations on private property owners, nor does it place restrictions on the use, treatment or disposition of private property. National Register listing does not lead to public acquisition of property, nor does it require public access to property.
Herrick and Van Sweden will be available to answer all questions and to review the advantages, disadvantages, requirements, involved in the National Register of Historic Places.