here's the agenda for today's meeting of the charlottesville historic resources committee.
there are 13 commission members, staff, and city officials on the call and 6 members of the public. there is some kind of power outage affecting a swath of downtown, so that could be affecting people's ability to attend, but 6 attendees is actually more than usual.
time has lost all meaning but i *THINK* this is the first virtual meeting of the historic resources committee? have they really not met since before the pandemic started?
"our committee has not met for 7 months, so this is a reunion of sorts," says acting chair genevieve keller. she starts the meeting with a land acknowledgement, the only city board or commission to do so.
going through some introductions - there are a couple of new members since the committee last met pre-plague
first up for public comment is the albemarle county commonwealth's attorney jim hingeley. his office is in the albemarle county courthouse, so he spends a lot of time in downtown cville's court square.
since council has shifted the burden of evaluating honorary street renamings to the historic resources committee, hingeley has called in to argue in favor of his application

next is former city councilor kristin szakos. she is also calling in favor of the honorary street renaming for gregory swanson.
(mayor nikuyah walker is vigorously opposed to this, saying swanson, a UVA student, was not a local resident)
and that concludes public comment. the committee will now hold elections for a new chair & vice chair (genevieve & alissa will not continue to serve in those capacities). jeff werner says he spoke with a member who is not present today & she is interested in serving as chair.
i misunderstood jeff -- he was speaking for a woman who IS present at the meeting. the way he said it made it sound like she was not here...
two committee members nominate rachel lloyd.
alissa nominates jalane schmidt and phil varner for co-vice chairs. the motions are seconded.
after some clarification on the expectations & duties, jalane chooses not to accept the nomination for vice chair. dede smith attempts to nominate ellen wagner, who also passes. genevieve asks if sally will do it, she hesitantly accepts.
the nominated officers are voted in unanimously. rachel lloyd, the newly elected chair, declines to chair this meeting, saying genevieve should finish this one out & she'll step in next time. sally duncan & phil varner are co-vice chairs.
everyone appears to be inside, so why does it sound like there is a strong wind blowing on someone's microphone?
oh that power outage is affecting more people than i thought!

a lot of the work of the historic resources committee is done by small subcommittees - they meet to discuss in depth & write content for historic markers & other projects... but the pandemic meeting policy allows only *SIX* subcommittee meetings total per month.
that's six subcommittee meetings, first come first served, across all city boards and commissions. so these working groups can either play roulette with their ability to meet each month or meet in groups of 2 which skirts open meeting laws. it's not ideal no matter what.
on to the discussion of the honorary street renaming mess. i'm so sick of the entire concept of honorary street names.
phil varner says not all of these suggested names are at all related to historic resources (we have honorary street names for our sister cities, for example, and council approved 'black lives matter blvd')
sally duncan did some research ahead of the meeting about the honorary street naming policies in 7 cities around the country. many cities require the applicant to pay the fee for the signage (cville does not) & require the historic person to have some relation to that place
genevieve keller notes that streets aren't the only things that can be given honorary names - there are buildings, rooms in buildings (like the MLK auditorium at the high school, the meeting rooms in the library, etc)
dede smith is concerned that the chocolate brown used on the honorary street name signs has been used for other kinds of signs around town. she is very worried this will cause confusion.
dede smith is heartily in favor of the gregory swanson way honorary street name. phil varner brings up that he only lived here 2 years & had no lasting local connection.
the library, which was once a courthouse, has researched the history extensively & is leaning toward renaming the room where the case was argued the swanson case room - named for the court case & its historical significance, not the man.
on to the discussion of the unmarked graves at pen park - jeff werner says ground penetrating radar investigation in july showed 43 likely graves. evidence suggests these are likely the graves of enslaved people.
"we don't know who any of these people are," says jeff werner, the city's historic preservation & design planner, about the unmarked graves.
some work is being done to identify possible descendants of people known to be enslaved at the homes that were there 200 years ago.
"we want to approach it appropriately and carefully," werner says about the dozens of unmarked graves discovered in a city park.
seriously what is going on with genevieve's audio
in other unmarked grave news, on to a discussion about the daughters of zion cemetery, where hundreds of unmarked graves were discovered alongside the marked ones.…
the number of graves is only an estimate based on ground penetrating radar investigation - it's possible to dig up the top 6 inches of soil to get a better idea, but there is no plan or intention at this time to do this.
rachel lloyd suggests using slightly more general language about the number of graves in the cemetery rather than being specific - that way the plaque won't need to be corrected if more research pins down a more exact figure.
phil varner suggests communicating with the preservers of the daughters of zion to see if they want to spend this $2000 on a new plaque or if that money would be better spent on something like marking the gravesites so it's clear it isn't a field, but there are human beings there

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8 Oct
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