Historic Preservation Commission Continues on With New Members
By Cindy Hadish, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Mayor Ron Corbett said he harbors no grudge against former members of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, despite actively recruiting their replacements.
All four commission members who applied to be reappointed this year, including chairwoman Maura Pilcher and vice-chairman Bradley Fritz, were passed over in favor of new volunteers, all of whom Corbett recruited to serve on the commission.
“There’s absolutely nothing personal at all,” Corbett said. “There’s no ulterior motive I have in replacing them.”
Corbett said the City Council often changes membership of boards and commissions to give others an opportunity to serve.
“This year, I wanted to get people on the commission who have experience with restoration projects,” he said.
Corbett didn’t comment on the experience of those leaving the commission.
Fritz is an architect with OPN Architects of Cedar Rapids, who has worked on the post-flood restoration of the historic Paramount Theatre.
Pilcher is assistant director of Brucemore, Iowa’s only National Trust Historic Site.
Two lawyers, Kevin Papp and Tim Klima, both of whom were filling unexpired terms on the commission, also reapplied, but were not reappointed.
The 11 commission members, appointed for three-year terms, are volunteers who act as the voice of the community. Members, tasked with preserving the city’s historic assets, offer recommendations to the City Council.
Since the Floods of 2008, that task has been an uphill climb for the commission.
Efforts to preserve the Sinclair smokestack and the city’s Public Works Building both faced opposition.
The smokestack has since been demolished and the same fate is pending for Public Works.
Members also developed a list of most-endangered properties and have repeatedly asked to examine lists of flooded properties before they are scheduled for demolition.
Corbett said he expects the same proactive approach from the new commission.
He noted that he personally intervened in an attempt to save the historic First Christian Church, 840 Third Ave. SE, which was demolished in May to make way for a parking lot.
The commission met for the first time in a regular monthly meeting Thursday, Aug. 9.
New members are: Leslie Charipar, artistic director of Theatre Cedar Rapids; Moira Blake, wife of Mount Mercy University president Christopher Blake; Tim Oberbroeckling, who owns a salon and spa and is co-owner of the historic Ausadie Apartments, 845 First Ave. SE; and Barb Westercamp, a former teacher who has experience with husband’s building appraisal business.
Terms of other commission members did not expire this year.
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