Florida's Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan 2012–2016

How This Plan Was Developed

Public Survey

An online survey developed by the Division of Historical Resources staff was widely distributed over a period of several months. Over 250 completed surveys were received. Results from this survey supplemented the input of participants at six public meetings, and have been tabulated and included in the planning process. The survey, conducted through the Survey Monkey website, was distributed through the Division of Historical Resources' web site, at public meetings, and as a tag on all Division emails. The online survey had 22 questions, with the last eleven dealing with demographic information about the respondent. The questions were a mixture of ranking, yes/no, agree/disagree, and open ended questions intended to give the respondents an opportunity to voice their opinions more clearly.

Survey Results

The survey included a question to determine what respondents considered the five most important issues concerning historic preservation in Florida. Twelve topics were suggested, with a blank left to indicate other topics not included in the list. Respondents were asked to pick only five topics, ranking them from 1 (most important of their five choices) to 5 (least important of their five choices). All of the twelve topics were chosen by at least one respondent; as one respondent noted, "all of them are important." Taking into account the number of times a particular topic was chosen, as well as considering its assigned ranking, Survey Monkey assigned an average ranking. Based on those averages, the top five issues were:

  • Development   (avg. 3.58) (134 votes)
  • Economics of Historic Preservation   (avg. 3.47) (152 votes)
  • Downtown Districts   (avg. 3.20) (87 votes)
  • Property Rights   (avg. 3.14) (78 votes)
  • Perception that Florida has no Historical Resources   (avg. 2.98) (99 votes)

Based only on the number of times an issue was picked as one of the respondents' top five issues, regardless of ranking, a slightly different list resulted:

  • Economics of Historic Preservation   (152 votes) (avg. 3.47)
  • Historic Preservation Education   (145 votes) (avg. 2.90)
  • Development   (134 votes) (avg. 3.58)
  • Heritage Tourism   (120 votes) (avg. 2.87)
  • Perception that Florida has no Historical Resources   (99 votes) (avg. 2.98)

A comparison of the two lists shows agreement that Development, Economics of Historic Preservation, and the Perception that Florida has no Historical Resources are among the top five issues. Combining the lists results in a ranking of seven topics that are considered the most important ones facing Florida:

  • Development
  • Economics of Historic Preservation
  • Downtown Districts
  • Property Rights
  • Perception that Florida has no Historical Resources
  • Heritage Tourism
  • Historic Preservation Education

It is interesting to note that downtown districts and property rights scored highly, but were not prominently mentioned in written comments or at the public meetings.

Meetings

During April and May of 2011, a series of meetings was held across Florida to gather public input on the Statewide Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan. Because of staff travel restrictions, for the first time in Florida's historic preservation planning process, a consultant was used to conduct public meetings and provide analysis. Approximately 100 individuals attended meetings hosted by Florida Public Archaeology Network regional offices in Tallahassee, Pensacola, St. Augustine, Cocoa, Fort Lauderdale and St. Petersburg. Stakeholders including professional preservationists, archeologists, historians, local government representatives, planning professionals, neighborhood preservation volunteers, community and statewide nonprofit organizations, and local residents had an opportunity to discuss successes, challenges, opportunities and concerns that will affect Florida's historic resources over the next five years. During each two-hour meeting, participants identified local and statewide preservation needs and opportunities and ranked them in order of priority. Jeannette Peters of Nonprofit Management Consulting LLC was contracted to facilitate the meetings. Individuals who were unable to attend the public meetings were encouraged to provide their comments and opinions by completing the online survey on historic preservation issues in Florida.

How the Goals, Objectives and Strategies were Developed

Attendees at the public meetings participated in a guided discussion designed to elicit opinions, concerns and opportunities about efforts in their communities and on the statewide level. Participants addressed the topic from the perspectives of the three overarching issues identified in the previous comprehensive plan, Planning for the Past: Preserving Florida's Heritage, 2006-2010. Those issues were: Historic Preservation Education, Public Policy to Support Historic Preservation, and Economic Development through Historic Preservation. They also discussed the previous plan's effectiveness on the state and local level.

Although this process triggered extensive and sometimes passionate discussion among the attendees, due to time constraints, comments had to be limited to identifying and capturing responses. Local stakeholders were encouraged to use these discussions as a jumping-off point for further collaboration to address issues identified. The evaluation process identified general consensus in each of the assessment areas. Results are summarized on the following pages.

Findings

Although each of the six regions that hosted Public Input Meetings identified unique assets and issues, analysis of meeting outcome data shows distinct trends in areas of concern across the state. Two areas in particular were identified in each of the six regions and received very high priority from meeting participants.

  • Communicating with Policy Makers: One specific topic was identified as an area of concern across all six regions of the state and received the highest number of overall votes from meeting participants: the need to better educate policy makers – legislators, county and city commissioners, statewide agency heads and local officials – about the benefits and impact of historic preservation on Florida's economy and way of life. In every region, meeting participants highlighted the need to develop more effective ways to bring the message to local and state lawmakers. Participants identified the need to frequently adapt strategies to deal with constantly changing state and local administrations, and the need to plan activities around the political cycle as newcomers are elected or appointed
  • Communicate Historic Preservation's Economic Impact More Effectively: Also identified as a chief area of concern by all six regions, and receiving the second-highest number of votes in the meetings, was the issue of developing better ways to measure the dollar impact of historic preservation. Meeting participants felt that preservationists should work to publicize the fact that historic preservation activities in Florida, including the rehabilitation of historic buildings, heritage tourism, the operation of history museums, and activities generated by Florida Main Street programs contribute some $6.3 billion annually to the state. Participants expressed concern that policy makers "are hearing it, but they're not getting it." Across the regions, preservationists expressed a desire for a statewide reporting system that could be implemented to capture the dollar impact of their efforts, with analysis of the data on the state level to help make a case for expanding funding for historical resources.

Other Highly Ranked Issues From the Public Meetings

  • State and Local History Should Be More Effectively Taught in the Schools: Local preservation groups could partner with schools to develop local curricula, which could include field trips to local historic sites with hands-on experiences like working on a cracker farm or participating in an archeological dig.
  • There is little to no Florida history being taught in the public school systems.

    If you want to help preservation there needs to be education starting in grade schools. There is no such education whether it's about Florida prehistory or preservation.

    I think we should go to the schools more. Work through the children more, making history exciting and fun.

    —Comments from survey
  • Schools could find ways to link historic preservation studies and activities to the Florida Department of Education's Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) and new End Of Course Tests.
  • Local training on economic development topics is needed: Participants expressed a strong need for community-based technical assistance workshops on economic development/preservation topics like financing. Neighborhoods need rehabilitation loans and grants and training on how to access these resources.
  • Develop strategies to draw visitors deeper into local history and develop more local and statewide heritage tourism: Find ways to link historical markers to more in-depth exploration of local sites and resources; develop local history trails and cross-promote between local and regional sites. Participants were eager to learn more about the University of West Florida's Next Exit History program, a web-based resource which might be a model for statewide location of historic properties near highway exits.
  • Provide more opportunities for state/local interaction: Meeting participants value and rely on the assistance and support of the state Division of Historical Resources (DHR), and are eager to interact with each other in a noncompetitive forum.
  • Maybe more workshops or just programs periodically where people involved in historic preservation or staff members like myself can get together and discuss various topic or share ideas on how problems were solved or how people are promoting historic preservation. These kinds of programs are very encouraging.
    —Comment from survey
  • Participants hope that DHR will increase opportunities for more onsite or face-to-face meetings. Annual or semiannual public input meetings similar in format to the Historic Preservation Plan public input meetings were requested, as well as increased opportunities for state/local partnerships.
  • Make Certified Local Government (CLG) status more meaningful: Meeting participants felt that the Certified Local Government program is an effective way to bring historic preservation to the attention of county and municipal policy-makers, but felt that the program could be more effective. They suggested that CLGs should have a periodic review and recertification process, along with a forum for public concerns/complaints, to hold local governments more accountable for historic preservation. It would also be helpful to develop a way for CLGs to document their impact on preservation and the local economy.
  • Using the Five Year Historic Preservation Plan as a management tool: Meeting participants noted that the 2006–2011 Comprehensive Plan was very broad in scope, and that the previous plan did not contain measurable objectives. They felt that updating the plan for 2012–2016 provides an excellent opportunity to craft a plan that could be more meaningful to all stakeholders, with specific, time-defined performance targets. They hope to see strategies and action plans that are implementable, with more accountability for the plan from both local organizations and from DHR. Participants felt that the plan should be discussed and reviewed frequently as a management tool to improve effectiveness and impact of historic preservation efforts.
  • An examination of the input received from written comments and from the regional meetings indicates that the respondents desire more technical information and training for local preservationists to empower them to better address preservation needs, particularly at the local level. Many of the suggested strategies, therefore, fall under an overarching need for better education and outreach across the board, from children and homeowners, to policy makers and business owners. One of the best ways to achieve this is to improve communication and cooperation among Florida's wide array of preservation partners to reach the common goal of promoting and improving historic preservation in Florida.

Timeframe of the Plan and Revisions

This preservation plan (2012–2016) will provide statewide direction on how to best preserve Florida's archaeological and historical resources over the next five years. It will be revised and updated in 2017.

The plan will be posted on the Division's website, www.flheritage.com , with notifications sent to public and academic libraries, local governments, and key partners. During the next five years, annual regional meetings of the state's preservation partners will be conducted to gather updates on the progress made in achieving the defined 2012–2016 goals.

Making historic preservation a fundamental part of our lives and communities will give a greater sense of who we are as Floridians, whether our families have been here for generations or we have just arrived in the Sunshine State. The goals and objectives included in this plan reflect the issues and opportunities available to Floridians as they plan for the preservation of our cultural heritage in the 21st Century.