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2022 SHPO Success Stories

MN Statewide Historic Preservation Plan 2022-2023

In 2019, the Minnesota SHPO kicked off a collaborative process to gain public insights and examine preservation practices throughout the state. This planning process culminated in the Minnesota Statewide Historic Preservation Plan 2022–2032. The Plan shares a vision for historic preservation and how all Minnesotans can work together to preserve and protect the diverse historic and cultural resources across the state. Developing the 2022-2032 Minnesota Statewide Historic Preservation Plan was a three-year effort, with much of the work happening during the COVID-19 pandemic. The SHPO Planning Team took the lead role in the planning and engagement process, developing a project charter, an engagement plan, setting plan goals, managing plan processes, facilitating internal brainstorming sessions, and coordinating the final plan content. They engaged with communities across the state to elicit feedback to ensure everyone’s voice was heard during the development of the updated plan. The Minnesota Statewide Historic Preservation Plan 2022-2032 was formally reviewed and approved by the National Park Service on December 23, 2021.

Two primary goals, established prior to starting the public planning process, guided the work: 1) gain authentic and meaningful input from partners, stakeholders, the public, and the SHPO team; and 2) use that feedback to guide the direction of the Plan. From the start, an inclusive approach was adopted, beginning with officewide collaboration to identify stakeholders and public engagement themes. This collaborative approach applied team expertise in specialty areas and increased ownership of the Plan. Additionally, the SHPO team utilized their varied expertise during public engagement events, through collaborative brainstorming sessions, as part of group writing exercises, and to analyze public comment.

The new Plan represents the culmination of a three-year statewide collaborative process of gathering insights and learning from the public, stakeholders, and many partners. Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, State Historic Preservation Review Board members, many state agency partners, Heritage Preservation Commission members, local communities, history and preservation-focused organizations, and preservation practitioners shared their time, knowledge, and contributions to the Plan. All these groups play a role in stewardship of Minnesota’s irreplaceable historic resources. From them it was learned the importance that place has for communities and individuals alike. The Plan shares a vision for historic preservation in Minnesota and elaborates on how Minnesotans can work together to preserve and protect the diverse historic and cultural resources across the state. The document is organized in two parts. The first part describes how we got to where we are now through past accomplishments, trends affecting historic resources, and challenges and opportunities ahead to preserve the state's rich heritage. The second outlines how we can achieve the state's vision by accomplishing the five broad Plan Goals that focus on partnerships, access to information, equity, economic benefits, and sustainability and climate resiliency.

In October 2022 the SHPO Planning Team received the Star of the North Award in recognition of their teamwork, engagement, improvement, and innovation in developing the new Statewide Preservation Plan. The Star of the North Award is the flagship achievement award for the Minnesota Department of Administration, given yearly to one or two individuals and one or two agency teams. During the award presentation, Alice Roberts-Davis, Department of Administration Commissioner and State Historic Preservation Officer, said "The Planning Team demonstrated flexibility in its ability to change course during challenging times [and] the result is a meaningful preservation plan to guide Minnesotans for the next ten years."

The Lewis P. and Lisbeth Hunt House, Mankato MN

The Hunt House dates to the early founding of the City of Mankato. Mankato was first established in 1852, primarily due to its location on the Minnesota River, and quickly became a regional trade center, home to wholesale businesses, hospitals, large mills, and factories. The Lincoln Park neighborhood is well known in the area for its steep hills and oddly angled streets. The author Maud Hart Lovelace wrote lovingly of her childhood adventures on the hills in her series of books known as "Betsy-Tacy."

In 1885, L.P. and Lisbeth Putnam Hunt built a Queen Anne style home at 811 South 2nd Street. The house has numerous distinguishing features, including a turret with a conical roof and a curved glass window purchased at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. L.P. was a postmaster in Mankato who later went on to own the Mankato Free Press. Lisbeth, in the meantime, was involved in historical and cultural work, both at the local and state level.

In 1940, the home’s third owner opened a beauty shop in the parlor. She, and then her daughter, ran the business until 2015. By then, the house’s upkeep became overwhelming, and the home was sold through a bank sale. Three years later, the current owners purchased the property and have rehabilitated it to serve as a bed and breakfast. The new homeowners invested a total of $225,661 to rehabilitate the home. Of this, $208,345 qualified for the historic tax credit, resulting in a state credit of $41,668. With the work, the property’s value also increased by 220 percent between 2019 and 2022. Correspondingly, property tax collections also increased by $2,296.

When accounting for the ripple effects, or the businesses that benefited from the construction activity, the Hunt House project generated an estimated $440,860 in economic activity. Thus, each dollar of state taxes generated $10.60 in economic activity. The construction work also triggered an estimated $22,980 of new tax collections, which is more than half the tax credit awarded. Between the increased tax collections from construction and increased property values, within 10 years, the project will be paying more in taxes than it cost.

As was the case in the 1860s, Mankato is a regional commercial hub in southern Minnesota. With a population of 41,700, the largest industries in Mankato (measured by employment), include health care and social assistance, manufacturing, and retail trade. Mankato attracts visitors through its tourism economy. The Hunt House is located near the commercial hub of downtown Mankato, including the civic center. It also provides easy access to the University, which draws families visiting their children. Mankato’s median income ($45,625) is below Minnesota’s average of $68,411. Of the population, 24 percent live below the poverty level. However, Mankato is home to Minnesota State University, Mankato, and college students are reflected in the data. For families, 12 percent of children live below the poverty level.

Transportation Liaison and Agency Coordination

In April 2022, after several years of collaboration and planning with federal and state transportation agency partners, the Minnesota SHPO hired an Environmental Review (ER) Transportation Liaison. This ER Transportation Liaison is full-time, permanent, professional position whose primary role is to facilitate the SHPO’s Section 106 expedited review of federally funded transportation projects in the state.

Initial discussion and planning for this new SHPO position began in 2015 in conjunction with the development and execution of the current Section 106 Programmatic Agreement (PA) for administration of the federal transportation project in the state. Under this PA, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), as lead federal agency, authorizes the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to initiate Section 106 consultation for federal transportation undertakings, including establishing procedures to streamline the Section 106 process and commitments to seek ways to improve consultation.

Though not a high priority when the SHPO transitioned to a new state agency during most of 2017 and into 2018, the discussion and planning for a possible transportation liaison position continued during this time. In July 2017, the Transportation Research Board’s Committee on Historic and Archaeological Preservation in Transportation’s Mid-Year Meeting was held in Minneapolis. During this meeting, the SHPO ER Program Manager participated in a panel discussion regarding Section 106 PAs and the role and benefit of transportation liaisons in other states. Inclusion in this panel discussion and the opportunity to meet with other SHPO compliance staff helped to gain a better understanding of the legal and staffing parameters of such a position.

Subsequently, the Minnesota Division of the FHWA was awarded a grant to arrange for and host a peer exchange, inviting Section 106 transportation liaisons and their counterparts at state transportation agencies from three states to come to Minnesota for a day and half of meetings with SHPO, FHWA, and MnDOT. The peer exchange was held in Saint Paul in May 2018 and participating states included Virginia, Texas, and Washington. This peer exchange was extremely beneficial in that it provided extensive information regarding the roles and responsibilities of the transportation liaison in each state historic preservation office and their relationship with counterpart professional staff at the state DOTs. It was clear that this liaison position would not only benefit the FHWA and DOT’s responsibilities under Section 106 but would also strengthen SHPO professional capacity, and strengthen the relationship with our state transportation partners, building upon and further support collaboration between the agencies in furtherance of prioritizing historic preservation while effectively delivering critical infrastructure projects.

Following the peer exchange, consultation continued to develop and implement a cooperative agreement between the MnDOT and SHPO for streamlining of Section 106 transportation reviews, with the goal of eventually hiring a dedicated liaison. The first cooperative agreement was executed in 2020 and this agreement provided the essential funding stream and framework to support approval of a new full-time professional position.

The ER Transportation Liaison serves as a bridge between the Federal Highway Administration and MnDOT with the goal of improving overall Section 106 consultation among agencies while expediting transportation project reviews. The minimum professional qualification for this position is consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Professional Qualifications Standards in either the field of History or Architectural History, or both. The Minnesota SHPO was not only fortunate to hire someone who meets both Standards, but also meets the Standards in the field of Archaeology. Since the hire in April 2022, the ER Transportation Liaison has quickly built strong professional relationships with both SHPO colleagues and MnDOT colleagues and has consulted on just over 20 major transportation projects, several of which have completed Section 106 review. In accordance with the current cooperative agreement, Section 106 reviews for federal transportation projects have gone from 30-days to 25-days. By the end of January 2023, the review time will be further decreased to 21-days.

In addition to work on transportation reviews, the liaison has also been able to dedicate time and analysis, in collaboration with MnDOT and FHWA partners, to ongoing consultation and development of an updated, more comprehensive and expanded federal transportation program Section 106 PA which will replace the current PA due to expire in 2024, as well as apply her data and geospatial knowledge in support of SHPO efforts towards development of an online historic property inventory portal and GIS platform due to be implemented summer 2023.

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