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Grass Roots Preservation II

(Released: November, 2003)

Recently, we announced the thirteen recipients of the 2003 cost-share grants from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, administered by the National Park Service. As many of you know, the program was established by an Act of Congress in 1999 to assist in preserving the most representative and significant historic properties along the Mother Road. To date, the program has been able to provide cost-share funds totaling $696,101 to 39 projects in the eight states through which Route 66 passes. These have included the rehabilitation of cafes, gas stations, motels, neon signs and other transportation related properties. Projects such as these are providing economic vitality for the business owners, as well as generating more revenues for towns and counties. The program has also funded condition assessments for historic buildings, inventories of the historic properties along the road, oral history workshops, and a number of other important initiatives. When asked, we also conduct cursory needs assessments for historic buildings, provide direction for owners on how to restore or rehabilitate their historic property, and serve as a clearinghouse for information on Route 66 preservation. Our staff is comprised of myself and Kaisa Barthuli, Associate Program Manager.

But what does all this mean in terms of the big picture in preserving Route 66? Is the program making a difference? We believe it is, but we all know that we have a long way to go. The Route 66 Corridor Preservation Act authorized 10 million dollars to be appropriated by Congress over the ten year period of the program that terminates in 2009. Because of the tight national financial climate, over the first three years of its existence, the program has received a total of 1.1 million dollars. We believe that our budget for FY04 (October 1, 2003 – September 30, 2004) will be the same that it was the last two years: $300,000 to administer the program, which includes salary, travel, technical assistance and cost-share grants. If we continue to be funded at the same yearly level, we will have received 2.9 million out of the 10 million that was authorized to be appropriated by 2009, basically less than a third of what was originally envisioned.

We all know that the vast majority of preservation work is made possible by people like you. In fact, almost everything we do with the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, we do with partners, whether they be local and state governments, tribes, business owners, non-profit organizations, or concerned citizens. That’s what preservation is all about, working together so that we, and our children, can enjoy and experience the great historic properties and landscapes along the road. Whether you live on Route 66 and are concerned about a particular building that may be flagged for demolition, or you live far from the route but understand the importance of preserving the historic properties for the future, many times it’s people like you that make the difference on whether a property will be saved or not. City councils, county commissions, tourism officials, state representatives and senators, congressional staff, and a myriad of other offices and organizations, react and respond to your concerns as active citizens wanting to preserve and continue the use of this great part of our American heritage. Decision makers will also listen if you have concerns about the status of the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program.

If you want to learn about how you can get involved with furthering the preservation of Route 66, start by joining a state Route 66 Association, and/or the National Historic Route 66 Federation, if you are not already a member. These organizations are strong advocates for preserving Route 66. Their leadership will direct you on how to make a difference by making your voice heard. For those of you that are already members, talk to your directors and chairmen about what steps you and your organization can take to help in furthering the Route 66 preservation movement. You do make a difference! You can find links to the various Route 66 Associations along the corridor by accessing our web site at www.cr.nps.gov/rt66. The web site also has our latest newsletter, status report, a comprehensive description of projects funded to date, upcoming preservation workshops, various histories of Route 66 by state, and information on how to contact us. We would love to hear from you!

Michael Taylor
Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program
National Park Service

 

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