by Michael R. Allen
The Springfield News-Leader reports on the issues surrounding Park Central Square in downtown Springfield, Missouri. Supposedly designed by famed landscape architect Lawrence Halprin but remodeled in the the years since its 1969 construction, the park is at the center of a dispute between city government. The city wants to redesign the park and preservationists want to restore the original design. The original design, however, is also contested — some claim Halprin was not the architect of the plan that actually was built.
Because the city is using federal funding for their redesign, a section 106 review has been triggered. Section 106 reviews, mandated by the 1966 federal Historic Preservation Act, are administered by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and serve the purpose of determining whether sites impacted by federal spending are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. SHPO’s ruling here could determine what the park will end up looking like. If SHPO determines the park is eligible for listing, and advocates for its preservation can get it listed on the National Register, the city’s plans could be derailed.