I asked Steve Wilke-Shapiro to write a little something about West Des Moines becoming a Certified Local Government (CLG) and what it could mean for property owners. Holly arranged a meeting with him over a year ago, back when the barn was still at 39th and Ashworth and we were looking for opinions on how to save it. After reading his thoughts here, I feel hopeful about what CLG could do for West Des Moines (perfectly positioned!) Thanks for reading.
From a professional perspective, it is exciting to see West Des Moines start down the path of becoming a Certified Local Government (CLG). The CLG program, administered by the State Historic Preservation Office at the state level, generates direct tangible benefits to historic communities as well as promoting general public engagement in preservation.
The act of becoming a Certified Local Goverment entity brings with it both opportunity and likely a bit of trepidation as well. There is responsibility for building a local preservation infrastructure – institution of a historic preservation commission (supported by a local ordinance), commitment to identification of the City’s historic resources, working towards preservation of those resources, and inclusion of the public in preservation discussion. This structure encourages preservation-oriented partnerships between local communities, statewide preservation organizations, and the National Park Service.
In concept, it represents the embracing of a new role. It is a meaningful step in the evolution of a community as it acknowledges local responsibility of caring for its older neighborhoods and buildings.
In practical terms, CLG designation creates opportunities for technical assistance, preservation training, and potential grant funding to underwrite local preservation acitivites. As a CLG, for example, the City of Des Moines has partnered with neighborhoods to complete major preservation studies and documentation of historic resources. This work has helped to build a strong and growing web of historic districts with the ability to leverage additional investment in renovation through Historic Tax Credits.
As a city with historic roots and several areas potentially eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places, West Des Moines is well-poised to utilize its future CLG status as a tool for revitalization and preservation.
About Steve Wilke-Shapiro
When I’m not working with homeowners on renovation design and preservation consulting at my day job, I’m renovating my own house and co-organizing the Des Moines Rehabbers Club. The club’s mission is to promote neighborhood revitalization and restoration of Des Moines’ unique building stock by informing, educating, inspiring, and supporting each other in all phases of home renovation and maintenance.
To learn more, visit at his online presences: