Letter to the Editor

Support the HDC

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Like many of you, I moved to Eureka Springs after discovering its charms: Victorian-era buildings and houses, the narrow winding streets lined with miles of rock retaining walls natural springs, all set in these beautiful Ozark hills.

That was in 1971, just about the time Eureka was designated a National Historic District.  Sadly numerous important buildings had already been lost to fires and neglect. The creation of the District, one of the very first in Arkansas and surrounding states, was a huge step in slowing further losses.  

The initiative on the November election ballot to abolish the Historic District Commission is an assault on the efforts to preserve those structures which still exist. The very character of which has attracted visitors here for over 140 years. The Commission is essential to ensure that further wholesale alteration and destruction of the contributing structures does not occur. Without the guidelines and the enforcement thereof, further detrimental activity could even lead to the loss of the National designation status as an Historic District. The proof of the foresight of those who worked to create the District was a huge resurgence of visitors coming back to this unique town, much as they had in its earliest days.

I have lived in and owned both residential and commercial properties in the city for over 49 years. I have never considered it an imposition to apply for approval from the HDC for any work. As a real estate broker for over 20 years I recognize that the preservation guidelines protect the value of these properties. While it may be a bit inconvenient to go through the process for approval, property owners should be fully aware of these laws when they purchase property in the District. If one does not wish to adhere to them, then they certainly should not buy in the District.

We are all invested in the continuing success of Eureka as a travel destination, whether a property owner, an employer or an employee, because all of our livelihood depends upon people continuing to be attracted here, as we have surely learned this year especially. Please do not allow those few who apparently do not care about preserving the very character of this town erase the efforts of those who do and have done for decades.  

Full disclosure, I served a three-year term on the commission back some many years ago. Commissioners are volunteers who have the best interests of the preservation of this town. They do their best in an often unappreciated role. But without oversight of the National guidelines there would undoubtedly be further losses and destruction of the very identity of our town.  Perhaps they need to brush up on their roles from time to time, following the guidelines without letting personal opinions slip into their decisions.  

Now more than ever, as competition has steadily increased for tourism dollars, and every other town has discovered their own actual or pseudo “historic districts,” we need to protect ours.  

Please vote to retain the Historic District Commission. Do not destroy all the efforts of the last 50 years to retain the very identity of our beautiful town.

— Carol Greer

Eureka Springs