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Dobbins Mining Landscape Deserves Listing on Ten Places in Peril List

This appeared in the Rome News-Tribune on November 7, 2012

 

I want to thank the Rome News-Tribune for its recent editorial, Trusting in Tomorrow, about the list of Ten Places in Peril for 2013 just announced by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. The principal purpose of our list is to draw attention to the rich heritage of our state in jeopardy of being lost. As our list this year so clearly demonstrates, the history of Georgia has contributed much to our unique American story.

You take exception to our decision to include the Dobbins Mining Landscape among the Ten Places in Peril, and I would like to explain why the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation believes that it has a well-earned place on the list.

Despite the lengthy controversy over plans for the U.S. 411 Connector project, the Dobbins Mining Landscape is a truly important historic resource. While the full value of Dobbins Mining Landscape has just recently come to light, its important role in contributing to the industrial might of America is now well established – literally since the hardening qualities of manganese mined at Dobbins was essential to America’s steel making industry during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While the state’s role in gold mining is perhaps best known, Dobbins helps us understand just how diverse and critical our state’s mining heritage has been. The historic importance of the Dobbins Mining Landscape has now been affirmed through a determination of eligibility by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places in Washington, DC, who perhaps has the best national perspective on what constitutes a property of importance in American history.

You are correct to identify adequate transportation access as critical to the financial well-being and success of preserving historic properties. But transportation developments have too often been the cause of many of our historic places being lost.  The best hope for avoiding this in the future is understanding the real consequences of proposed transportation plans. This includes knowing the importance of historic properties–like Dobbins Mining Landscape–and adopting plans that help protect these important parts of our heritage while meeting our state’s transportation needs.

The Georgia Trust is in favor of a direct route to connect Rome with I-75 and believe that alternatives exist that can be accomplished expeditiously and without destroying historic and environmentally sensitive areas. We are most willing to work with citizens of Rome, GDOT and others to achieve this goal.

Mark C. McDonald

 

Mark C. McDonald is president and CEO of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.  He has more than 25 years of professional involvement in historic preservation.  Founded in 1973, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation is one of the country’s largest statewide, nonprofit preservation organizations.  The Trust works for the preservation and revitalization of Georgia’s diverse historic resources and advocates their appreciation, protection and use.

Tom Perdue speaks at Rome Tea Party townhall

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Tom Perdue

U.S. 411 Connector talks proposed
by Diane Wagner, staff writer

This article appeared in the Rome News Tribune Dec. 2, 2012

Talks between Floyd and Bartow County leaders may be the next step in the 30-year battle over the U.S. 411 Connector.

“The smart thing to do is to sit down with all the parties, find a route we agree on, have an intergovernmental agreement and pass a regional sales tax (to fund it),” said David Doss, a former State Transportation Board member. “Or we’ll be in court another six or eight years.”

Doss represented both counties when the current Route D-VE was selected as the way to best link Rome with Interstate 75 through Bartow County and ease congestion in Cartersville.

It appeared to be a done deal in 2008, but the wealthy Rollins family has been throwing up roadblocks to prevent it from running through their 1,800-acre ranch. Funding for the road, estimated at between $187 million and $230 million, also remains an issue.

Doss’ remarks drew applause at a Rome Tea Party event last week that featured Rollins representative Tom K. Perdue presenting arguments for choosing a different route. But the D-VE route is supported by many local elected officials and Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce members as crucial to future economic development.

“It’s easier to stop a road than it is to build it,” Dr. Dan Hanks said during the sometimes-contentious session. “The longer we wait, the worse it is for Floyd County, and if you ever want your kids to come back to Floyd County and have a job, you’d better think about it.”

Paul Smith, a former state representative who chaired the House Transportation Committee, also said the route has been properly vetted and the straight-shot connection to I-75 is badly needed.

“If it gets to the point where people with money can decide where roads go, it’s a hell of a note,” Smith said.

Despite the wariness of local leaders, Perdue said some of them indicated after the presentation that they might be willing to talk about other options. He said he would help gather Cartersville people who also are interested in finding a faster way to get the road built.

“I told David Doss I would work with him any way possible to get some meetings set up,” Perdue said. “I think there’ll be some community discussion now, That’s all I was hoping to generate.”

The Rollins family believes the Georgia Department of Transportation made errors in the way it picked the route — a contention Doss disputes — and Perdue said they will keep fighting to keep it from running through their property.

Route selection process

The GDOT evaluated eight conceptual routes on their economic viability and their ability to attract traffic, save travel-time and reduce congestion. The southerly routes were projected to be the best choices by the year 2030:

  • Traffic volume — Concepts A, B, and D would draw more than 24,000 vehicles a day. Concept G, the so-called Ridge Route, would draw about 7,000.
  • Congestion reduction — Concepts B and D were the only ones that would keep traffic volume on U.S. 41 below 23,000 vehicles a day. With Concept G, more than 40,000 vehicles a day would use U.S. 41.
  • Time savings — Concepts B and D would make traveling faster than Concept A, the improvement of existing roads. The other routes were projected to be slower.
  • Economic viability — The value of travel time savings was projected to be greater than the cost of construction in Concepts A, B and D, with Concept D having the highest rating.

Environmental studies started in the fall of 2003 and — after notifications, public hearings and a look at a few more alternatives — the Federal Highway Administration approved Route D in October 2008.

The route was later value-engineered to shave the projected costs from about $400 million to $200 million, and renamed Route D-VE. The changes meant the FHWA’s record of decision had to be re-evaluated using new environmental data. A ruling is still pending.

Continuing objections

Rollins family attorney Henry Parkman also has written a letter protesting the inclusion of the U.S. 411 Connector (as designed) in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program that lists projects in line for construction.

Parkman’s Nov. 21 missive recaps previous objections ranging from the historic value of Dobbins Mine and the Euharlee Wildlife Preserve conservation easement to the potential of acidic runoff from a cut in the mountain and the effects on protected plants and fish habitats.

He also contends the GDOT route-selection process was flawed because it assumed population and jobs would grow equally as fast if the Connector was built or not built.

“A ‘no-build’ forecast that includes ‘build’ assumptions about land use stacks the deck against the no-build scenario by inaccurately increasing its impacts,” Parkman wrote.

He also notes that GDOT is again looking at a realignment, Route D-VE-A, and contends federal law requires the agency to start over with a comparison of other alternatives.

Also read  Sparks fly at town hall about 411 Connector, an article written about the same subject that appeared in the Rome News Tribune on November 30, 2012.

Dobbins Mine added to Places in Peril list

2 Bartow locations on list of 10 Places in Peril
by Jessica Loeding

This article appeared in The Daily Tribune News Nov. 3, 2012.

A former school that survived the Civil War and a former mining site dating back to the 1860s seem to have only age in common. But, according to the state, both are in trouble.

The two sites — Stilesboro Academy in Taylorsville and Dobbins mining landscape in the county — were listed Wednesday among the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2013 list of 10 Places in Peril in the state.

Wednesday’s designation is vital to survival of the former schoolhouse on the edge of the county.

“We are very pleased to be included in the list,” said past president of the Stilesboro Improvement Club Ann Mascia. “It’s something that is very important for Georgia, and certainly for us to be included is monumental for the academy.”

Henry Parkman, attorney for Cartersville Ranch, LLC, echoed Mascia’s thoughts.

“We are pleased that the Georgia Trust has included the Dobbins Mining Landscape on its Places in Peril list for 2013,” he said. “As recognized by the Keeper of the National Register, the Dobbins mining landscape — a site of over 200 acres — is a significant historic district associated with late 19th and 20th century manganese mining operations, which produced large quantities of manganese ore for steel manufacturing. The mining landscape includes Dobbins Mine, Georgia’s oldest and most productive manganese mine, which was critical to the growth of industry in Bartow County following the Civil War.”

The list is the eighth annual naming of places across the state that are in need of assistance. Places in Peril is designed to raise awareness about Georgia’s significant historic, archaeological and cultural resources, including buildings, structures, districts, archaeological sites and cultural landscapes that are threatened by demolition, neglect, lack of maintenance, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy. Through Places in Peril, the Trust will encourage owners and individuals, organizations and communities to employ proven preservation tools, financial resources and partnerships in order to reclaim, restore and revitalize historic properties that are in peril.

“We hope the list will continue to bring preservation action to Georgia’s imperiled historic resources by highlighting ten representative sites,” Mark C. McDonald, president and CEO of the Trust, said in a release.

Stilesboro Academy

Stilesboro Academy

Stilesboro Academy, Taylorsville, Bartow County

Constructed in 1858-59, Stilesboro Academy’s grand opening was celebrated with a picnic on the first Saturday of May in 1859, a tradition the community has continued for the past 153 years. The school was occupied by the Union Army in 1864 and spared by Sherman. The school was saved again in the 1930s when the ladies of the Stilesboro Improvement Club raised money for the Bartow County School Board to purchase new lumber for a modern school, rather than demolish Stilesboro Academy and reclaim its lumber. The Stilesboro Improvement Club remains the caretakers of the academy, but with a dwindling membership, the building’s continual maintenance poses a challenge.

Mascia said the building faces major roofing issues that leaves the school in need of a roof, which is estimated to cost about $40,000.

“The academy is in grave need of help. … We simply cannot do it ourselves — we are a small ladies club,” she said.

Stilesboro Improvement Club will be hosting the 100th annual Stilesboro Chrysanthemum Show at Stilesboro Academy on Saturday, Nov. 3, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The event serves as the club’s largest benefit for the year.

“That’s our major fundraiser for the year and the proceeds go toward the care and restoration of the academy for the year,” Mascia said, adding that the academy’s listing should generate interest and, in return, revenue.

Dobbins Mine

Dobbins Mine

Dobbins Mining Landscape, Bartow County

From 1867 until 1945, the Dobbins Manganese Mine provided manganese ore, essential to the manufacturing of iron and steel. Manganese ore was used in the steel mills and served the nation’s industrial needs during both World Wars. The remains of this open-cut mining site are uniquely illustrative of the industrial heritage of the region and Georgia. The Dobbins Mining Landscape was recently deemed eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places; it is a rare example of an undisturbed historic mining site and no other manganese mine is currently included in the Register.

The Georgia Department of Transportation proposed a new highway project to facilitate traffic from Interstate 75 to Rome, known as the US 411 Connector. As planned, the connector will course directly through the cut of the Dobbins mine.

Those plans for a roadway are of concern to Parkman as well.

“The Dobbins historic mining landscape remains in peril from GDOT’s current attempt to pursue a D-VE ‘avoidance’ route that goes directly through this recognized historic property. GDOT’s new route would destroy and isolate about 45 acres of the historic mining landscape and would obliterate some of the most important historic contributing features (tailings pond, eastern dam, historic road from mill site to Cartersville railhead) that led to the Keeper’s eligibility ruling,” he said. “This approach violates GDOT’s own literature, as well as federal regulations, which require GDOT to pursue an alternative if the proposed route causes even the slightest adverse effect to a historic property. We are hopeful that the publicity from the Places in Peril listing will prompt concerned citizens and leaders to call on GDOT to pursue an alternative route that will not significantly harm the historic Dobbins mining landscape.”

Sites that have been placed on previous years’ lists have included: Rutherford Hall at the University of Georgia in Athens, which was demolished in June 2012 despite popular support from students, residents, alumni and the preservation community; Chattahoochee Park Pavilion in Gainesville, which received $25,000 in building materials after the Gainesville City Council voted in July to restore it; John Berrien House in Savannah, which was recently purchased by a descendant who plans to rehabilitate the house and use it for both commercial and residential space; and the Mary Ray Memorial School in Newnan County, which won a Preservation Award from the Trust in 2012. Updates on these sites and others can be found at http://www.georgiatrust.org.

Founded in 1973, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation is one of the country’s largest statewide, nonprofit preservation organizations. Committed to preserving and enhancing Georgia’s communities and their diverse historic resources for the education and enjoyment of all, The Georgia Trust generates community revitalization by finding buyers for endangered properties acquired by its Revolving Fund; provides design assistance to 102 Georgia Main Street cities and encourages neighborhood revitalization; trains teachers in 63 Georgia school systems to engage students to discover state and national history through their local historic resources; and, advocates for funding, tax incentives and other laws aiding preservation efforts.

Other sites on the 2013 list include: Tift Warehouse in Albany; Candler Park Golf Course and Sweet Auburn Commercial District in Atlanta; Cave Spring Log Cabin in Floyd County; Monticello Commercial Building in Jasper County; Lexington Presbyterian Church in Oglethorpe County; Hancock County Courthouse in Sparta; and Traveler’s Rest State Historic Site in Toccoa.

 

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