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The El Dorado Historic District Commission is moving ahead with a proposed project to develop a historic preservation plan for the city.

For the 2019 - 2020 grant cycle, the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program is prioritizing grant proposals for community preservation plans, and Elizabeth Eggleston, executive director of the EHDC, said the commission should make sure that El Dorado gets its piece of the pie.

The AHPP will divvy up approximately $100,000 in grant money to Certified Local Governments this year.

CLGs are programs that represent partnerships between local governments, the AHPP and the National Park Service to preserve local, historic resources. El Dorado is one of 20 CLG cities in Arkansas. Grants awarded by the AHPP this year will cover activities for between May 15 and Sept. 30, 2020.

Elizabeth Eggleston, executive director of the historic district commission, has tendered a letter of intent to the AHPP, formally notifying the state of the city’s plans to apply for a grant to develop a comprehensive, citywide preservation plan.

The letter was submitted Dec. 14 and the grant application is due Feb. 22.

During the commission’s regular meeting Thursday, Eggleston said she is working with former EHDC Commissioner Doug Stanton on an outline for the preservation plan.

“They want to see every CLG community in Arkansas have a preservation plan,” Eggleston said.

She shared some of the evaluating factors the AHPP will consider with grant applications, including whether the project budget is reasonably tailored for the scope of work and whether the project can be realistically completed within the grant cycle.

“Some of these projects have drug on past the grant cycle, and the federal government is not going to allow that anymore,” Eggleston said.

She reiterated that the preservation plan will cover the entire city.

“We want to identify properties … that we see every day and don’t think about. We also want to do neighborhoods, like African-American neighborhoods, to identify and acknowledge these places of history in the city,” Eggleston said.

She pointed to predominately black neighborhoods, including St. Louis, Fordville and Memphis Heights, saying, “When people come in for El Dorado Days, their kids don’t know where their old neighborhoods are.”

El Dorado Days is a biennial homecoming celebration that began more than five decades ago by graduates of Washington High School — the former all-black high school that is now Washington Middle School — who lived in other cities around the country and wanted to connect with other El Dorado natives.

Eggleston said the city will be the actual applicant of the CLG grant.

While a local match is not required for the grant, Eggleston said the grant application is strengthened if the city provides matching funds or in-kind services.

Preference will be given to CLG communities that can match a portion of the project, according to information provided by the AHPP.

Eggleston also said funding in the CLG grant application is broken down into to parts, one for the preservation plan and the other for EHDC administrative staff and ongoing training and travel for commissioners and the executive director.

In other business:

• Linda Rathbun, chairman of the historic district commission, suggested that the commission schedule a brainstorming session to come up with ideas to make the community more aware of the EHDC and what it does.

The EHDC was formed in the early 2000s and primarily promotes educational, cultural, economic, and general welfare of the public through the preservation and the protection of buildings, sites, places, and districts of historic interest.

The commission is recognized by a city ordinance and oversees the El Dorado Commercial Historic District, which covers much of Downtown El Dorado.

• Eggleston reported that plaques have arrived for three local buildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including South Arkansas Regional Airport at Goodwin Field; the home of Elaine and Mike Strickland at 1016 N. Madison, which is part of the Murphy-Hill residential historic district; and the home of Dr. Steve Smart, 313 E. Main, which is in the commercial historic district.

• The EHDC is also looking to fill two openings for an attorney, architect, landscape architect, urban/city planner or a similar profession.

Eggleston said one application has been submitted.

To request an application, call City Clerk Heather McVay at 870-881-4877.

Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or tlyons@eldoradonews.com.

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