By Charlie Ray
For the Observer
The Alabama Historical Commission sponsored a training seminar in Opelika Thursday for Certified Local Government historic preservation programs. The day-long seminar featured speakers from the State Historic Preservation Office and Opelika’s Historic Preservation Coordinator Lisa Thrift. This is the third session sponsored by the AHC to train local officials on preservation guidelines and to recruit new municipalities to create their own historic districts.
Mayor Gary Fuller thanked the staff of the AHC and local community members for their efforts in preservation and mentioned the great economic impact a historic downtown has for Opelika. Fuller said the revitalization of downtown not only benefits local businesses, but also draws tourism to the city.
Mary Shell of the Alabama Historic Commission said the goal of these meetings is to teach local municipalities the economic value of historic districts and the importance of preserving the state’s historic commercial and residential buildings. Shell gave Opelika an “A” for its commitment to preservation and said city and community support is evident in Opelika for ensuring historic structures are protected and revitalized.
The seminar included training for federal and state tax incentives for restoration of properties in the historic district. Alabama awards $20 million every year in tax credits for both commercial and residential projects. In 2016, more than $20 billion dollars was spent on historic preservation projects in the state.
Members of the Opelika Historic Preservation Commission were in attendance for training on enforcement of the city, state and federal guidelines.
Opelika’s historic neighborhoods and the downtown historic district are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the Alabama Register of Historic Places. The designation ensures the protection of these neighborhoods against destruction and provides tax incentives for their restoration.