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Restoration in the works

Profile image for By John D. Harden / Staff Writer
By John D. Harden / Staff Writer

Pilot Point takes team’s advice on keeping downtown vibrant while maintaining character

PILOT POINT — When a team of planning experts visited Pilot Point earlier this year, they told city officials that historic buildings are the city’s crown jewels and must be restored and preserved.

Preservation has been an ongoing project for Pilot Point officials, and a building at 201 S. Jefferson St. has been designated as a city museum to house artifacts, memorabilia and other historic items.

Last spring, the city received a grant to secure the assistance of a group of city planning experts from an award-winning volunteer project of the American Institute of Architects.

“We developed the outline as a team, listening to hundreds of stakeholders in the community, trying to distill the issues as much as possible, then reconvening as a group to talk through the issues and determine the best solutions,” said Todd Scott, a preservation architect and leader of the volunteer team.

One of the recommendations made by the team was that city officials should make an effort to rescue the historic downtown buildings. The team said the city’s primary focus should be redeveloping the downtown square because of the sense of pride residents have in it.

Establishing a citywide historic foundation is a critical first step in preserving the character of Pilot Point, the team told city officials.

Scott and his team said Pilot Point lacks a centralized historic preservation organization that can rally other organizations to take a comprehensive look at the historic resources in the community.

The team did not propose a full-blown restoration to a specific year, but recommended bringing the square into the 21st century while maintaining the character of all the significant periods of history that remain.

Pilot Point’s current restoration and preservation efforts include establishing the museum in the downtown area.

The city has worked on establishing a museum for several months, and has completed restoration work on the brick both inside and outside the building to repair deterioration problems.

“We have also completed utility rough-in for water, sewer and electrical,” City Manager Tom Adams said.

The next step for the museum will be leveling the floor inside the building and making improvements to the exterior.

“[It] will be an exciting step in the process and make a real change on the corner for the downtown area,” Adams said.

The city is also working on restoring a building that was once used as Pilot Point’s water pump station and establishing a facade grant program.

Under the program, the city will match up to $2,500 to encourage businesses to make improvements on their buildings.

“Most owners spend considerably more than we match, but the incentive helps,” Adams said.“The first round of projects started 2011, and now in 2013 we are having our second round.”

To help complete some of the improvements, the city is planning on issuing certificates of obligation, most of which will be paid back in six years.

No vote is required for these certificates. Under the proposed plan, a tax increase is not required either, Adams said.

The city plans to issue about $1.5 million in bonds to be used for street and sidewalk improvements, water and wastewater improvements, and historic preservation and restorations.

JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882. His e-mail address is .