Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Peerless Rockville contesting Historic District Commission decision on Confederate statue

Eileen McGuckian, Executive Director emerita of historic preservation organization Peerless Rockville, criticized the September 17 vote by the Historic District Commission to allow Montgomery County to relocate the city's Confederate statue at last night's Mayor and Council meeting. McGuckian said the HDC made at least two errors in its decisionmaking process.

On the question of whether or not the statue had itself been declared historic, McGuckian said HDC commissioners were misled by city staff, who had said no such evidence could be found. She said that was incorrect, and that the statue had indeed been declared historic in the past. McGuckian also argued that the HDC used the wrong set of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior's Standards in reaching its conclusion.

The deadline to file a request to reconsider the HDC decision is October 4, McGuckian said. But the next Mayor and Council meeting is not until October 5. The Mayor and Council couldn't do anything about the matter anyway, Councilmember Tom Moore told McGuckian, as they have no authority to intervene.

Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton and Councilmember Beryl Feinberg said they would make themselves available to meet with McGuckian this week to discuss the matter.

McGuckian also called for more training for HDC commissioners, whom she said "were clearly uncomfortable with their roles" on September 17.

Newton said the Mayor and Council must have a public discussion on a separate issue regarding the statue October 5 - whether or not it will be accepted by the Beall-Dawson House, which is the preferred location by Montgomery County so far.

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