SOUTH PORTLAND – This week the South Portland City Council is expected to take the first step toward the creation of a new Arts and Historic Preservation Committee.

The group would not only create an inventory of important historic sites across the city but would also make recommendations for the purchase and installation of public art.

In its June newsletter, Greater Portland Landmarks announced it would partner with South Portland to help the city create its inventory of historic resources.

Last fall, Landmarks named the entire city of South Portland to its annual list of local Places in Peril. Now Landmarks is working to form partnerships in the city to raise awareness about historic architecture and landscapes.

“Landmarks is fully supportive of the city’s plans to elevate the importance of historic preservation in their decision-making process by creating an Arts and Historic Preservation Committee,” the newsletter said.

In addition, Landmarks has received a grant from the Horizon Foundation to fund a pilot architectural resources survey in the Willard neighborhood of South Portland.

Hilary Bassett, executive director of Landmarks, said that during the recent annual meeting of the South Portland Historical Society more than a dozen residents volunteered to work with Landmarks to help survey and document at least 120 properties in the Willard area.

“The project will serve as a model for additional inventories that these volunteers and others may create in future years for different neighborhoods to uncover the wealth of historic architecture and resources throughout South Portland,” the Landmarks newsletter said.

On Monday, June 16, the City Council held a first reading on the creation of the Arts and Historic Preservation Committee, which would have “specific responsibilities to preserve the historical and architectural integrity of South Portland, foster beautification of public areas and promote the educational, cultural and general welfare.”

The members of the committee would be appointed by the council based on their interest in art, historic preservation and familiarity with the city of South Portland, according to City Manager Jim Gailey.

– Kate Irish Collins

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