Two meetings held this week at the Connellee Hotel brought important information to key officials and the general public regarding the Texas Historic Commission’s VIP Program.
“VIP, Visionaries In Preservation, is a community planning program of the THC,” said Matt Synatschk, VIP program specialist, “and is based on an innovative planning process called visioning, which creates a forum for citizens to brainstorm about what makes your community a wonderful place to live, and how to protect and develop those attributes.”
Synatschk’s program was Phase II of the application process began by the Eastland Historic Preservation Board back in August.
“We learned of this program in August when Matt and two others from the THC office in Austin paid us a visit for an afternoon workshop,” said board president Dean Vernon. “During that time they encouraged us to apply for the VIP program, but the deadline was fast approaching.
Eastland Planning Official Bill Dolen took the “bull by the horns” and downloaded the application and spent many hours filling in all of the blanks. He, along with the board then sought out letters of support from citizens, property and business owners and key officials as well as some 50 coinciding photographs. The application was hand delivered to the THC office on the deadline date and then the wait was on.
Dolen received notice from THC of the Phase II meetings and soon the date was set for October 20 and the invitations went out to the public and officials.
A group of some 30 or so attended the first meeting on Tuesday at 4 p.m. where Synatschk explained the program operations and benefits. He was informed by those in attendance of the many projects taken on by the citizens that have and will enhance and benefit the community as a whole.
During the 6 p.m. meeting a video was shown detailing how communities can lose their individual identities and historic places of interest and values if they are not careful.
Matt detailed how the VIP program is made up of local citizens who partner with the THC.
“The purpose of your VIP program,” he said, “is to help plan how your community will utilize its historic resources to support its values, attract investment and enhance quality of life.”
Synatschk emphasized throughout the meetings if Eastland is selected to the VIP program, the state will not tell anyone what to do.
“This is your community, this will be your program, we, the State, will only be here to assist you,” he said.
Eastland was one of six cities applying for the VIP program and the state selects three per year. The other cities in the running were Hamilton , Goliad, Seguin , Rockport and Gonzales.
Early Thursday afternoon, Dolen received a call from Austin informing that Eastland has been selected to the 2010 Visionaries In Preservation Program.
A full release from the Texas Historic Commission will be available the first week in November with more details.