Beginning today (Sunday, Dec. 1), the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) will begin accepting grant applications for historic preservation projects. The federal Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) will be available after Congress passes the federal budget. The exact amount of available grant funding is not known but is expected to be in the range of $250,000.

Applications for the grant funds will be reviewed, rated and ranked. Decisions on funding grants will be made when the exact amount of funds are known, which may be as last as next August. The grants are matching grants and will reimburse up to 60% of the costs of approved project work. The remaining 40% must be provided by the grantee as matching funds. Restoration of historic buildings must follow the Secretary of the Interior’s standards for the treatment of historic properties in order to be eligible for the grant funding.

According to Tullahoma city officials, there are no projects currently in the works that would qualify for this year’s round of grant funding, but future projects for future funding were not ruled out.

The News also reached out to the Historic Preservation Society of Tullahoma officials to see if the group had any plans to apply for the funding but did not receive a response by press time.

The selection process will emphasize projects such as architectural and archaeological surveys, design guidelines for historic districts, historic preservation educational materials and the restoration of historic buildings that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and have a public use.

Priorities for the grants will be based on the SHPO plan, which includes areas experiencing rapid growth and development, other threats to cultural resources, areas where there are gaps in the knowledge regarding cultural resources and communities that participate in the Certified Local Government program.

For proposed survey projects, the projects should identify and record historic districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects important to Tennessee’s history and built more than 50 years ago.

Surveys may be for a specific geographic area or for sites associated with themes or events significant in the state’s history, such as the development of railroads in the 19th century or post-World War II residential development.

Preservation plans for towns, neighborhoods and historic districts and the preparation of nominations to the National Register of Historic Places are other areas for possible grant funding. In addition to the restoration of building, predevelopment work necessary to undertake rehabilitation is allowed.

Applications will be available at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation online grant systems website, www.tn.gov/environment/about-tdec/grants-home.html.

Two other options are available to access the grant applications, including visiting www.tnhistoricalcommission.org. Go to Federal Programs for the Tennessee historical Commission and click on Preservation Grants. There is a link to the grant applications and a list of past grantees. You can also find the information by going directly to TDEC’s home page, clicking About and then Grants. The web has a user guide and tutorial for those interested.

All applications for the Historic Preservation Fund grants must be completed and submitted by Jan. 31, 2020.

Erin McCullough may be reached at emccullough@tullahomanews.com.

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