Over the last few years, city and community leaders in Superior have worked hard to preserve the buildings, structures, and resources that define its history.  Now, they're looking to up their game.

The Superior City Council has given the green light to the Mayors office and administrators to look into becoming a Certified Local Government with the Wisconsin State Historic Preservation Office.

So what does that mean and how would it benefit the Northland? An article in the Superior Telegram [paywall] gives the details:

"A Certified Local Government is any city, village, county, or town that has been certified by the historic preservation office and U.S. Department of the interior to meet basic criteria for historic preservation."

There are a variety of criteria that have been established that must be met by the community applying:

  • Establishing a qualified historic preservation commision by ordinance
  • Enforcing state or local legislation for the designation and protection of historic properties
  • Maintaining a system to survey and inventory local historic resources
  • Providing public participation in the local historic preservation program

These criteria meet the baseline standard according to federal officials.  The State of Wisconsin has additional requirements for applicants as well.  That article in the Telegram spells those out:

  • Certified local governments must provide an annual report on activities, agendas, and meetings
  • They must enact and enforce an historic preservation ordinance.  That ordinance would regulate historic property that property owners cannot opt out from.  And, historic designation doesn't require owner consent
  • The Historic Preservation Commission must approve work on those locally designated properties.  Additionally, their recommendations may not be advisory

Many of these items have already been implemented by the City of Superior; this designation would seek to make them precise.

They would also bring the potential for better funding opportunities.

Jeff Skrenes - the Housing Planner and Advisor to Superior's Historic Preservation Committee explains the benefits:

"Certified Local Government status would give the city of Superior access to funding opportunities to do preservation planning, education, and placemaking.  And, it would help with grants and tax credits that would allow us to nominate properties for the National Historic Register of Historic Places, as well as preserve and restore properties that are already on the national register."

If granted, the certification would help by opening up economic financing that would benefit "existing [historic] sites like Fairlawn Mansion and the SS Meteor".  But, there would also be opportunities the future designation of sites that have long been talked about - like the Carnegie Library on Hammond Avenue.

If approved, Superior would join the 76 other certified local governments that dot the Wisconsin map.  Of those, Ashland, Rhinelander, and Washburn are the closest.

Superior's historic preservation committee aims to have the application process wrapped at some point in the first quarter of 2023.

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