This summer, preservation groups across the nation are working with members of Congress to follow through on a proposed increase to core national preservation programs. Both chambers have recommended increases for the Historic Preservation Fund this year. On the House side, the proposed increase is a nearly $10 million increase from last year’s level: $45 million recommended. On the Senate side, the proposed change is a more conservative of less than $4 million increase: $39 million recommended. Considering the Historic Preservation Fund is legally authorized for $150 million per year, preservation groups have been working toward an annual appropriation more in keeping with the amount authorized by law.
This fall, the House and Senate will be getting together to reconcile different spending proposals. Preservation-minded citizens across the country are letting their Congressperson know their feelings on the subject by sending emails or letters. One Congressman, Representative Ben Chandler of Kentucky stated in a recent interview “It is surprising how many people are interested in this—far more than are active in the preservation movement. I think the general public has a very strong interest in preserving those beautiful, interesting things we have to pass along to the next generation.”
His statement rings familiar with the preservation community in Greensboro. Former Speaker of the House, (Tip) O’Neill, Jr., is remembered for the phrase “All politics is local” and locals in Greensboro form the base of a grass-roots movement that extends through national politics and beyond. Advocates for the Historic Preservation Fund are rebuilding static or declining funding levels from previous years by sending letters and messages to their elected officials. In the words of Representative Chandler, this broad network “could make the difference.”