MURRAY — Murray leaders approved a measure last week that should help with planning preservation projects within the city’s historical district.

By a unanimous vote last Thursday, May 27, the Murray City Council said yes to the city becoming what is referred to as a Certified Local Government. The program is under the guidance of the National Parks Service and is designed to ensure that historic buildings are given the greatest amount of protection.

Murray Main Street Inc. Executive Director Deana Wright brought the idea to council members in late April at the end of her annual report on Main Street. She said that this year’s quest to establish this program in the city was quite overdue.

“We had worked on this in 2013. There were a few changes,” Wright said, noting that a series of events that developed in 2014 basically put the brakes on the Certified Local Government idea. “Things got delayed. Things happened. We had a few disasters (including the collapse of two buildings just off the court square, then a fire that destroyed half of the west side of the square), just everything happened all at once.”

Wright explained the program to the council members.

“Certified Local Government is a preservation partnership, so we partner on the local, state and national level to keep preservation at the forefront. But this brings us the opportunity to apply for planning money.

“But we have to be a Certified Local Government to get it. Now, this is actually money that goes to our state historic preservation officer through the (federal) Preservation Act of 1956, and it’s designated for Certified Local Governments only.”

Wright said several surrounding communities have adopted the Certified Local Government model. She described one such city.

“In fact, (City of Murray Mayor Bob Rogers) asked me what are the first few things I’d apply for when we were talking about planning. In Paducah, a few years ago, they had a gentleman come in and speak and his name is Jeff Speck (a nationally-regarded city planner) and he talks about simple and inexpensive ways to make your downtown better or your city better,” she said. “Well, they are making changes, though not exactly how he said to do it, but they are still following some of what he suggested.

“Also, I’d ask about possibly looking at our zoning, our B-3 zoning (Central Business District), some of those things that affect our downtown area and our historic preservation area and doing upgrades on that.”

Wright said during last Thursday’s meeting that she believes the maximum amount a city can receive for Certified Local Government grants would be $50,000, which would go for either planning or eduction purposes. 

“So, if we have a project that needs some planning … let’s say to widen a road or create a bicycle lane … that could be paid for with the grant. Any engineering you would need to do, the grant could pay for it.”

In returning to the Certified Local Government idea this year, Wright said several requirements that had not been satisfied back in 2013 have been handled now. Among these was designating one position on the city’s Architectural Review Board for a historic preservationist, of which there are now two — Duane Bolin and David Pizzo. 

“I was not able to learn any down side to applying for this. So, for me, if there’s an up side and no down side, I’m OK to pursue it,” Rogers said.

Also last Thursday:

• The council approved an adjustment in an ordinance concerning business signs. Director of Planning Dannetta Clayton said wall signs in the industrial district of the city will change from 80 square feet to 8% of the facade of a building.

• Also, the council approved the acceptance of a pair of streets into the city maintenance system, both in the Deerfield Estates subdivision. One of the streets is Deerfield Run, while the other is Martin Drive.