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From City Hall: Preserving our historical properties

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Last week the National Trust for Historic Preservation released a report at a media event in Hot Springs regarding Veterans Administration’s care and preservation of historic buildings. Part of the report referenced our VA facility in Hot Springs, because of its historic importance.

The National Trust has had a significant presence in Hot Springs previously. In 1977, The National Trust launched a Main Street America program. Three communities nationally were chosen for this pilot program. These three cities were chosen because of their historic downtown buildings and preservation needs. We continue to have this historic significance, and our VA center is an important part of our historic district.

After the announcement almost two years ago of the planned nearly complete closing of our VA center, we have fought for the saving of our VA facility. We have fought for the continued care our veterans were promised, and the care our local VA has provided. Confirming that our fight is right, at the end of last month we received a letter from The American Legion of South Dakota supporting our efforts. The letter went on to say the Legion stands shoulder to shoulder with the Save the VA committee to ensure the Hot Springs facility remains open.

At the media event, I thanked the National Trust for Historic Preservation for preparing the National Trust report. The report addresses the responsibility of the VA not only to care for veterans, but to abide by federal laws and regulations to care for and preserve historic properties. More than 2,000 of the 5,800 structures in the VA inventory are historic properties.

The National Trust report states that the VA has not properly cared for historic properties around the nation. Historic properties must be preserved, and Hot Springs is even more important, since our VA building has been designated a National Treasure. We all appreciate the report from the National Trust. Historic buildings and care of veterans have been a part of Hot Springs for decades. We are proud of our buildings and the local veteran care, and will continue to work for the preservation of both.

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