Danville officials working on plan to preserve architectural and cultural aspects of city’s history

City officials are preparing for a year to be filled with public input meetings for their work on Danville’s comprehensive plan.

“2023 is going to be busy,” Danville Planning Director Renee Burton said just before the start of a public meeting for the city’s preservation plan Tuesday afternoon.

Danville’s preservation plan will be an appendix to the city’s update of its overall comprehensive plan.

The preservation plan will address how to preserve the architectural and cultural aspects of the city’s history. It will also help the city determine how to preserve open space and move forward with future development, Burton said.

“The preservation plan itself will be used by city officials and community members to guide preservation in the city, inform what is important to the community, educate the public about local history and culture and creates an agenda for future preservation efforts through measurable goals,” according to city officials.

Such plans are long-range documents lasting about 10-15 years before they are updated. It will be the first adopted by the city of Danville.

Four goals, following input from a steering committee formed by Burton, are included in the preservation plan:

Protect existing historic resources and identify and document new historic and cultural resources in the city;

Promote a greater understanding of local history through equitable storytelling and a broader view of Danville’s past;

Actively engage the broader community of Danville;

Strengthen Danville’s existing historic preservation program.

Each goal will include strategies for how to meet it, said Caleb Gasparek, preservation planner with PaleoWest, LLC, in Phoenix, Arizona. The firm will be drawing up the preservation plan for the city.

“The goals are meant to be overarching,” Gasparek told the Danville Register & Bee at the meeting.

The preservation plan will be just one section among several in the document for the city’s overall comprehensive plan. There will be public input meetings for all aspects of the comprehensive plan, including recreation, flood-plain management and resiliency, or strategies for adapting to disasters.

The updated comprehensive plan is designed to serve as a guide for the physical development of Danville.

The purpose of the plan is to encourage the continued development of a safe and healthy community by offering a distinctive vision for the continued growth of Danville, according to the city’s we site. While it represents an ideal of what the city wants to become, it is also realistic with regard to anticipated social, economic and political constraints.

About 20 residents, many of whom are active in historic preservation, attended the public meeting Tuesday.

“Danville is finally really embracing preservation,” Danville Historical Society President Sarah Latham told the Register & Bee, adding that the meeting provides a great opportunity for public input. “We have history that has been lost.”

The group works to preserve and protect the city’s history and can provide resources to Danville to help promote strategies and accomplish the four goals, Latham said.

“Danville is a treasure,” she said.

Cody Foster, archivist with the Danville Historical Society, said he attends every meeting related to historic preservation.

“I want to be involved with everything having to do with historic preservation,” said Foster, who has been restoring his historic home on Pine Street for the past two years.

Danville Historical Society Treasurer Ruby Douglas, who grew in the city’s Almagro community, said, “I’m here to see what might be done in Almagro.”

Almagro, a once-thriving Black community located in south Danville in an area off South Main Street and Industrial Avenue, was incorporated and once had its own police department, barber shops, restaurants, churches and a hospital with Black doctors.

Input from the public will be considered for inclusion in the preservation plan.

“The plan itself will certainly be out in a draft form,” Burton told attendees during the meeting. “It will be available for the public for any comments.”

The plan will go to through many public reviews, including the Commission of Architectural Review, Danville Planning Commission and Danville City Council, before it is implemented, Burton said.

Article by John Crane | Register & Bee