FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WKRG) — There’s no doubt Fairhope is growing, but at what cost?
“We want to preserve; We’ve lost a lot here,” city councilman Corey Martin said. “The Nancy Lewis property, it was a big deal. We fought for it, but we didn’t have the government structures in place. She was one of the first freed slaves here in Fairhope.”
The property was once home to Lewis before new owners tore down the house last November. Councilman Corey Martin wants to see the city’s history saved, and this week those conversations continue at city hall.
“It looks like our legal team has put together a constitution of bylaws, and now we’re going to get together and get with the historic committee to kind of additively put those together to fit Fairhope,” he explained.
Those plans took shape during a work session Monday night. Currently, Alabama has 34 Certified Local Governments, which are cities with historic preservation commissions meeting the Alabama Historic Commission and National Park Service standards. Martin wants Fairhope to obtain this status, so the city can receive tax breaks and grants to help preserve historic buildings before they’re gone.
“This is maybe the third or fourth rough draft that we’ve had with the legal team and the historical committee,” Martin said. “This is the first time that we’ve gotten this far.”
A 1922 building at the corner of Fairhope Avenue and Church Street in the heart of downtown is another missed opportunity, according to Martin, who said he’s not sure what the new owners of the former Fairhope Hardware location intend to do with the structure that’s in desperate need of repairs.
“We don’t have the structure in place and the property rights are real, so that particular owner can do what he wants with that property, and there’s no harm, no foul,” Martin said. “That’s just the legal parameters, but places like that we would like to continue to preserve.”
It’s still unclear what authority the city would have, but Martin said all of those details are still being reviewed.
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