Interview with Erin Gibbs, staff member, Teton County Historic Preservation Board
Teton County Historic Preservation Board is an organization that advocates for historic preservation in Teton County. They are also a partner of the Alliance for Historic Wyoming. TCHPB staff member Erin Gibbs took the time to respond to our questions about what the board has been working on recently and why it supports AHW.
What projects is the board currently working on?
The board just finished intensive surveys for several properties in Teton County and is now focusing on researching and implementing preservation incentives for property owners in the county who own locally significant structures. The incentives would include special waivers in regards to set backs, zoning, FAR, and certain code restrictions. The board is also actively working with multiple property owners to either rehabilitate or reuse their historic buildings to ensure they continue to thrive in Teton County. Lastly, the board has been involved with Grand Teton National Park's Historic Properties Management Plan and the United States Forest Service's Gros Ventre Land Acquisition consultation processes.
What services does the preservation board provide/what is its role in the community?
The preservation board is made up of a great mix of skilled preservation professionals, ranging from historians to professional architects. The board currently reviews demolition permits in the town of Jackson and seeks to preserve and/or relocated historic structures slated for demolition. The board excels in offering sound preservation consultation to property owners who are looking for guidance on their historic buildings; the board is committed to finding solutions that respect both the property owners' needs and the important history present in Teton County. The board's role in the community is in a period of expansion as it continues to articulate its mission to identify, protect, and preserve Teton County’s architectural, archaeological, and cultural history while also advocating the use of preservation as an important tool for responsible development across the county.
What are some specific challenges/successes that the Teton County Historic Preservation Board has experienced?
The Teton County Historic Preservation Board faces the broad challenge of municipal policy that was not designed to take into consideration the ways in which historic structures naturally do not conform to modern code and zoning, but still provide safe and sustainable places to live and work. The board is taking proactive measures to work with the county and come up with special considerations that can help incentivize property owners to retain their historic buildings. The board has found some success in working with property owners one-on-one to help find solutions for retaining or saving historic structures. This has taken the form of consulting on creative rehabilitation projects as well as assisting with compiling historic research to inform treatment considerations.
Why does the TCHPB support the Alliance for Historic Wyoming?
I think Kurt Dubbe, one of our board members said it best when being asked why he was involved with historic preservation:
“A friend recently asked where I thought Jackson Hole is heading. I told him we will not know where our future is, unless we know where we have been. Understanding and appreciating our past helps position us to grow into a more informed future. Not freezing the past, but living with it, and learning from it. Our buildings and those people associated with them are part of our future. These deserve respect and recognition. Preservation is progress."
The board believes AHW's commitment to preserving Wyoming's historic places is an excellent model for what can be done on the local level and are always excited to support the cause of historic preservation.
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