What does Downtown Revitalization and Keep Blanco Beautiful have in common? It is the Downtown Historic Square! Keep Blanco Beautiful began their environment and beautification work in May, 1999. The Comprehensive Master Plan and Visionaries in Preservation work started in 2004. The preservation and beautification of our beautiful downtown historic district were at the heart of both groups.
This week, the oldest building on the square ",The Byars Building," had the front yard turned into a concrete slab. None of the citizens who have worked so hard on the preservation and beautification efforts were consulted. The Blanco Historic Preservation Commission and the Certificate of Appropriateness were also bypassed.
The beautiful old oak tree on Pecan Street that shaded the Bindseil Park was cut down over the Christmas holidays. Two years ago, while the KBB group was working on the park, we noticed that some of the limbs on the east side of the tree were dying. At that time we called Nathan Cantrell out to take a look and asked him to call in an arborist. He said he did not have the money in the budget to try to save the tree. At the 2007 City Council meeting, they voted to call in an arborist who determined that it might have a 50/50 chance. The chances would have been better two years before.
The Downtown Revitalization Focus Group has several people working on the plan to preserve the square. Mary Alice Torres- McDonald was assigned by the Texas Downtown Organization to assist Blanco with the planning process. Mary Alice is a professor at Texas Tech, in the Historic Preservation Department. Due to illness and work load, Mary Alice has turned this project over to Kim McKnight, who lives in Austin. Mary Alice will also help oversee our plans. Even though we were delayed in developing a plan for streetscaping, landscaping, burying utilities, landscaping the courthouse square, economic development, and preservation incentives, the plan was never abandoned; it is still very much alive and moving forward. We ask that the City of Blanco support these efforts.
Kim McKnight will be in Blanco soon to visit us and help begin the Texas Downtown Organization process. The funds that were raised at the Treetop Ranch fundraiser for Keep Blanco Beautiful have been set aside to help the revitalization efforts of Downtown Historic Blanco and will be used to help with this process.