Orange Park votes to preserve its history

By Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 3/20/19

ORANGE PARK – The city’s history was been given a new lease on life with the creation of the Historic Preservation Board during Tuesday night’s council meeting.

Last November, the Orange …

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Orange Park votes to preserve its history

Posted

ORANGE PARK – The city’s history was been given a new lease on life with the creation of the Historic Preservation Board during Tuesday night’s council meeting.

Last November, the Orange Park Town Council approved a historic preservation task force led by council member Connie Thomas. The purpose of the task force was to determine how historic preservation was to be handled in the town’s future and after some deliberations, the task force landed on the idea of a board. After some back and forth between citizens in favor of the board and citizens against it, as well as comments from the council, the historic board was approved.

“I just want to go back to that this board is going to be very different,” Thomas said. “You’re going to need vast knowledge to be on this board.”

Thomas was speaking on the debate that came before this vote after council member Ron Raymond motioned for the board’s ordinance to mandate that you must basically be an Orange Park resident to be on the board.

“It needs to be a qualified elector just exactly like it is on the other boards,” Raymond said, referencing the fact that electors must live in Orange Park to qualify for an election.”

While that’s usually the case with Orange Park boards, Thomas and supporters of the Historic Preservation Board explained that because of what this board will be doing, it calls for members with extensive knowledge on the subject.

If the parameters for members require Orange Park residency, the board might not necessarily get the members and knowledge it anticipates.

“This doesn’t mean the board can do whatever they want in the town,” board advocate Danny Garcia said. “It means the Town Manager can work on finding the correct people for the board. Historic preservation requires knowledge. It’s not the same as code enforcement and it’s not the same as planning and zoning. It requires specific knowledge. Once that board is selected, with the right working experience and professionalism, then that board would begin to propose its powers and duties.”

Garcia explained that regardless of the powers and duties the board hopes to acquire, the council would have to pass a vote to approve said powers and duties, meaning the council has the final say. The explanation came after some Orange Park residents said they were worried the board might accrue too much governmental power within the town.

When it came time for votes, an amendment was made to change the board qualification from stating “property owner,” which could include people who live out of Orange Park that own Orange Park property, to “qualified elector,” which requires Orange Park residency, with a vote that passed 3-2, with Thomas and council member Roland Mastandrea dissenting.

Shortly after this vote, the council voted 4-1, with Raymond dissenting, to approve the formation of the Historic Preservation Board.

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