“The English Property forest gets closer to Florida Forever’s 2024 buy list”

“The English Property forest gets closer to Florida Forever’s 2024 buy list”

Photo: Patricia Moynihan / WFSU Public Media

“Paul Russell Road is one of several that bisects the English property forest

A plan to save part of the English Forest in Tallahassee from development has moved a step closer. The Acquisition and Restoration Council of Florida Forever unanimously voted to approve the English Forest Preserve Project. Support from the Tallahassee City Commission, and other local entities helped secure the vote.

The Council expressed concern about the preservation plan—noting that it only covers part of the property and not all of the original 600 acres that was rezoned for mixed-use development last year. Despite those reservations, the council decided the environmental and archaeological importance of the property was enough to approve the plan for further evaluation.

‘We have evidence that there’s a good pattern of occupation,’ said Mary Glowacki of the Panhandle Archaeological Society. She says the area was occupied by Paleo-Indian peoples.

‘And the fact Mr. English himself collected a lot of lithic material that dates to that time period, there should be something out there.’

Glowacki said the potential for an archaeological discovery is likely, but not without the financial backing of Florida Forever.

‘It would be unfortunate the way the development could proceed if the property didn’t get brought under ARC,’ she said. ‘The city and the county don’t have a rigorous review program for cultural resources ahead of development, so we might jeopardize finding out more about cultural resources if that’s the case…’

The acquisition of the land by Florida Forever is not a done deal. The property must now undergo further evaluation, and a second vote is set for later this year to determine if the project will earn a spot on Florida Forever’s 2024 priority list.”

— Alexis Rejouis, WFSU

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“Common sense has prevailed: Bill threatening Florida’s historic buildings is dead”

“Common sense has prevailed: Bill threatening Florida’s historic buildings is dead”

Photo: Verónica Zaragovia, WLRN WUSF News

“Historic buildings like Art Deco ones in Miami Beach would have been allowed to come down under a bill introduced in the 2023 legislative session…

St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Sikes-Kline said she feels relieved that these bills didn’t make it.

‘It would have created more problems than solutions,’ she told WLRN via email…

This came after opponents, including officials from cities like Palm Beach and St. Augustine, spoke up against the legislation that would have allowed any building to come down so long as it stood in high-risk coastal flood zones mapped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and didn’t meet the agency’s requirements for new construction. That would include the majority of historic buildings up and down the state, especially the hundreds of Art Deco structures in Miami Beach. Properties in historic districts would not have been protected except for any individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Senate Bill 1346 and House Bill 1317 received support from Republicans and Democrats, and made it out of the Senate with some amendments, like exclusions for buildings 200 years and older, but didn’t get debated on the House floor.

Opponents feared the measure would allow hundreds of Art Deco and Miami Modern buildings in Miami Beach to be torn down, destroying the character of cities and hurting the tourism economy…

The measure even got attention well outside the state. The National Trust for Historic Preservation sent out a statement urging people to contact elected officials to ask them to vote against it.

‘Florida’s historic districts are irreplaceable architectural, historical, and community treasures,” the National Trust wrote. “Countless private property owners have invested in the rehabilitation of historic buildings in these districts and helped revitalize local economies. For decades, preservation organizations, commission members, architects, developers, and city staff have helped plan and implement successful development projects in historic districts.’

Critics also feared this legislation would encourage what’s known as demolition by neglect — when an owner of a property avoids costly repairs to a building until a building official deems it too unsafe for public use.

When the Deauville Beach Resort — a Miami Modern building built in 1957 — was imploded last November, preservationists accused the owners of abandoning the hotel until it had to get demolished. They had shut it down in 2017 after an electrical fire and later, water damage caused by Hurricane Irma. Despite efforts in court from Miami Beach officials to get the owners to repair it, a judge ruled it had to be demolished due to a public safety risk.

The legislation would have excluded any historic structures listed by name in the National Register of Historic Places. Miami Beach, however, has fewer than 10.

The bill is expected to return in 2024.

The bill sponsor in the House, State Rep. Spencer Roach, has said he plans to reintroduce the measure next session.”

— Verónica Zaragovia, WLRN WUSF News

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Everglades City: “Historic Bank of Everglades receives Federal funds”

Everglades City: “Historic Bank of Everglades receives Federal funds”

Photo: Courtesy Photo in Naples Florida Weekly

“The Everglades Society for Historic Preservation, Inc. reported its Bank of Everglades building project was included for funding in the Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations bill. With support of Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, the Bank of Everglades was appropriated $3 million from Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funds for community and economic development. These and other funds will be directed at stabilizing the building and its foundation, securing its structural integrity.

The Bank of Everglades building, located in the heart of Everglades City and individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a prominent reminder of the heritage of Everglades City and the development of Collier County and Southwest Florida.

Recognizing the importance of saving the structure, ESHP has undertaken its rehabilitation. The building has survived hurricanes and floods, gone through uses as a rooming house and then bed and breakfast, only to be vacant for more than six years. Once rehabilitation is completed, a multi-year, multi-phase undertaking, the building will serve as the Everglades Area Visitor Center as well as one of Florida’s Trail Town Headquarters. In addition, the renovated structure will be available for community meetings, educational programming, travelling exhibits and other activities appealing to visitors and supporting local businesses and community groups…

For information, visit www.eshp.org

— Naples Florida Weekly

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“Green Gables nonprofit receives grant to buy, save Melbourne historic house”

“Green Gables nonprofit receives grant to buy, save Melbourne historic house”

Photo: Tim Shortt, Florida Today

“Constructed as a cutting-edge showpiece mansion in its era, Melbourne’s aged Green Gables estate has slowly structurally deteriorated over the generations — within the looming shadow of a wrecking ball.

Volunteers have spent the past dozen years fundraising and trying to strike a deal to buy the six-bedroom, 1896-vintage American Four Square/Queen Anne house — which features a distinctive octagonal porch — to refurbish as a public asset.

Finally, their historic-home quest has proven successful.

A $482,500 Florida Division of Historical Resources matching grant to help buy Green Gables has been approved in the state budget, said Nicole Hu, historic preservation grants specialist…

Marion Ambrose, president of the preservation-minded nonprofit Green Gables at Historic Riverview Village Inc., described her reaction as “stunned.”

‘I believed we would get it. I was sure we could get it. After all this time, to actually have it happen was pretty mind-numbing. But I’m very excited,’ Ambrose said.

Photo: Tim Shortt, Florida Today

The initial goal: Stabilize the home’s foundation, which has sunk a few inches near the octagonal porch. She said volunteers will also partner with the Marine Resources Council to plant mangroves and install oyster beds along the lagoon shoreline.”

— Rick Neale, Florida Today

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“Alachua county reaches agreement to preserve Native American land in Micanopy”

“Alachua county reaches agreement to preserve Native American land in Micanopy”

Video and Text: myCBS4.com

“During a meeting on March 22, Alachua county commissioners passed a motion to buy a parcel of land at the intersection of U.S. 441 and Tuscawilla Road, in order to preserve Native American history.

A developer wanted to turn the 5-acre property into a Dollar General store. The land holds historical significance because it is where the second Seminole war started. Micanopy resident Aaron Weber has been fighting to preserve this land since March of 2020.

‘Everyone told us we couldn’t do it, from former county commissioners to hired experts, and something just kept us persevering and pushing along. It was like the spirit of Osceola was with us, that spirit of never surrendering and never quitting,’ Weber said.

Weber said along the process more people joined like Micanopy resident Robert Rosa.

‘It was a difficult process. Most of our people are unseen, our voices are invisible or even ourselves are invisible to the common people, the government. They just don’t realize that we are still here,’ Rosa said.

Martha Tommie, member of the Seminole tribe, feels thankful.

‘He said, we won. And I just started being humble and just respecting our elders and our ancestors and our Seminole tribe of today,’ Tommie said.

Weber said with this gesture the board of county commissioners in Alachua county showed they care.

‘The county motto is Where nature and culture meet and they exemplified that and they care about nature,’ Weber said…”

— Massiel Leyva, myCBS4.com

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“Selby Gardens To Launch New Boat Tour Between 2 Campuses”

“Selby Gardens To Launch New Boat Tour Between 2 Campuses”

Photo: Selby Gardens via Patch.com

“The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens soon will offer visitors a brand-new, ‘Old Florida’ way to experience both of its bayfront campuses, according to a news release.

Starting in January, Selby Gardens will launch Selby Gardens by Boat, a boat tour that includes a narrated, round-trip cruise between its Downtown Sarasota campus and its Historic Spanish Point campus, access to both sites for self-guided touring, and lunch at the Historic Spanish Point campus…

‘Selby Gardens’ two sanctuaries are so significant and beloved in large part thanks to their bayfront locations,’ Jennifer Rominiecki, president and CEO of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, said. ‘The water is central to the history and appeal of our two campuses, so it only makes sense to connect them by boat. This tour is going to offer an immersion into native nature, our regional history and the ecology of the area…’

Highlighting the full-day experience is roughly three hours of leisurely cruising with educational narration from Sarasota Bay to Little Sarasota Bay and back.

‘It’s 10 miles of beauty — a kind of aquatic garden, if you will,’ said John McCarthy, Selby Gardens’ vice president for the Historic Spanish Point campus. ‘Then you’ll arrive at our Historic Spanish Point campus the way people did 100 years ago — by boat’…”

— Tiffany Razzano, Patch.com

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