Regional Preservation Services System

Georgia is unique in the way it provides regional and local preservation services. The state's Regional Preservation Services System (RPSS) places a Regional Development Center in sixteen regions across the state to assist communities and individuals involved in historic preservation.
The Georgia RPSS began in 1978, modeled after a similar program in South Carolina. In its first year, only two regions participated in the program. By the next year ten more regions had joined the program. Funding is provided by the Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and by local matching funds.

Regional Development Centers

Regional planners operate from Regional Development Centers, which are planning agencies funded by state and federal grants with dues paid by member cities and counties. The centers were reconstituted after the passage of the Georgia Planning Act of 1989 to implement comprehensive planning on a local and regional level. Serving their surrounding counties, the centers are located in Americus, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Brunswick, Camilla, Columbus, Dalton, Eastman (with the planner's office in Baxley), Franklin, Gainesville, Griffin, Macon, Rome, Valdosta, and Waycross. Fifteen regional preservation planners serve either full-time or part-time; Griffin is the only center without a planner. Over the years boundaries have been changed to make adjustments in regional conditions and local preferences. The regional centers provide assistance to city and county governments in matters related to land use, transportation, historic preservation, natural resources, solid waste, and economic development.

Regional Preservation Planners

The result of Georgia's unusual regional organizational structure is that preservation programs originating at the federal level (in the Department of the Interior or the National Park Service) are coordinated at the state office and administered locally by the regional planners. Such a structure ensures regionally appropriate implementation of federal directives for historic preservation (as established by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966) in Georgia's 159 counties.
Each regional planner must meet federal qualifications. A bachelor's and/or master's degree in historic preservation is required. The purpose of the RPSS is to provide direct (that is, timely and localized) assistance in treating historic resources. These treatments must also follow preservation standards and guidelines established by the federal secretary of the interior. The system also allows each planner to participate in individual preservation projects, like courthouse and city hall restorations, downtown revitalizations, and tourism initiatives. The planners are typically the first point of contact for launching preservation programs in Georgia's communities.

Program Achievements

In addition to providing local assistance, the RPSS helps achieve the preservation goals developed by the state office. One of its most important goals is to protect Georgia's historic places. The regional preservation planners use the National Register of Historic Places, state and federal tax-incentives, and Georgia heritage grant programs to achieve this objective.
Georgia consistently leads other states in many historic-preservation categories, such as the total number of National Register listings and the amount of money invested in rehabilitating historic properties. The Historic Preservation Office also successfully provides historic preservation services throughout the state's 57,906 square miles. For more than twenty years, the RPSS has offered an effective way to identify, preserve, and protect the state's historic resources.
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Further Reading
Heritage Preservation and National Park Service, Caring for Your Historic House (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1998).

W. Brown Morton III et al., The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and Illustrated Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1992).

William J. Murtagh, Keeping Time: The History and Theory of Preservation in America, rev. ed. (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1997).

Bradford J. White and Richard J. Roddewig, Preparing a Historic Preservation Plan (Chicago: American Planning Assoc., 1994).
Cite This Article
Walker, Burke. "Regional Preservation Services System." New Georgia Encyclopedia. 04 June 2013. Web. 17 April 2014.
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