Council hears presentation on draft Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation Master Plan

By Zach Hagadone
Reader Staff

The Sandpoint City Council at its regular meeting Jan. 6 welcomed interim planner Daren Fluke, who began his work with the city around the first of year following the resignation of former Planning Director Aaron Qualls in late December. 

Fluke, who joins the city after a seven-year stint in long-range planning at the city of Boise, said he has “a really good understanding of the development process and the pressures that are both on city staff and the development community,” noting that Sandpoint is “drinking from a firehose right now” in terms of development activity.

Among the big development efforts currently underway are the city’s various master planning efforts, including the Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation Master Plan, a draft of which consultants Lakota Group, based in Chicago, and Florida-based Surale Phillips presented to council members.

The plan comes after months of public outreach; analysis of the city’s various arts, culture and historic organizations and assets; and a “state of the city” report delivered to council members by the consultancy firms in September.

Now in its second phase, consultants Nick Kalogeresis, of Lakota Group, and Surale Phillips, who helms the cultural planning firm that bears her name, outlined a number of themes addressed by the draft plan. 

Overall, it is intended to build on the city’s own comprehensive plan, in that it supports Sandpoint’s community character and design — “retain[ing] and strengthen[ing] Sandpoint’s unique identity, character and sense of place in regard to cultural activity, cultural and community events, public art and historic preservation,” Kalogeresis said.

To accomplish that, the plan first recommends combining the Arts and Historic Preservation commissions in order to broaden participation between the city and local arts entities — hopefully expanding to include homeowners, tribal groups and businesses.

Other themes, goals and initiatives include strengthening Sandpoint’s identity as an arts and culture destination by helping workers and businesses in the creative sectors with access to outside funding, opportunities to access additional space and marketing efforts. 

To “promote and tell the many different aspects of Sandpoint’s history,” the plan also suggests establishing an official Sandpoint historical marker program to denote important places, homes and commercial buildings, as well as pursue “heritage tourism activities” — specifically, Kalogeresis said, the opportunities presented by the Carousel of Smiles project.

“We think the carousel project is really a fantastic community opportunity,” he said, adding that “maybe instead of permitting the carousel to locate at City Beach, maybe look at a downtown location. … You’d think you’d want that located closer to your business district.”

The plan goes on to recommend pursuing individual property listings in the National Register of Historic Places, updating the Historic Preservation Ordinance to permit local landmarks and districts and consider neighborhood conservation programs that would help protect historic areas that may not rise to the level of the National Register.

Finally, among other key recommendations, the plan floats the idea of establishing the new city position of “administration for creative vitality” — a “convener and facilitator,” as Phillips described it, who would be responsible for bringing together the entire arts, culture and preservation sector. 

“I really appreciate your emphasis on collaboration and opportunities for funding,” said Council President Shannon Sherman, who led the council meeting in the absence of Mayor Shelby Rognstad.

“I was really impressed by the thoughtful way this was all put together,” added Councilmember Kate McAlister, who also serves as president and CEO of the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce. 

The final 120-page plan is due to go back before the council “in the next couple of weeks,” according to Kalogeresis.

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