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While Jefferson City has made several strides in regards to historic preservation, it still has a long way to go, a consultant told the Jefferson City Historic Preservation Commission on Tuesday.

Pennsylvania-based group Heritage Strategies LLC is currently working with Jefferson City to prepare the city's new historic preservation plan, which will contain long-term recommendations the city can use to guide historic preservation projects.

The top issue the city is fighting is neighborhood blight, Heritage Strategies Regional Planner Elizabeth Watson said. Not only will eliminating blight improve the look of the neighborhoods, she said, it will also encourage more investment in those neighborhoods.

"You have to make sure your risk is as minimized as possible because no one is going to put their money at risk if they think their actions are going to be undermined by neighbors," Watson said.

She suggested the city also encourage more neighborhood conservation overlay districts, local historic districts and historic commercial centers as neighborhoods. The city currently has the Capitol Avenue Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District, the Lower Jefferson Conservation Overlay District and School Street Local Historic District.

She also encouraged more neighborhood associations, using the Old Munichburg Association as a key example. These associations, along with the city, could help encourage more wayfinding signs and could help encourage visitors to view the city and its historic neighborhoods.

Along with working with these neighborhood associations, Watson said, the city should collaborate with other resources like the Historic City of Jefferson and Missouri State Historic Preservation Office.

Historic preservationist Jane Beetem said she was glad the city was moving forward on the historic preservation plan, adding, "it's something that is really needed."

This can't just be a city project though, she noted.

"While it is a city-focused plan, I think it's going to take more than the city and commission to implement these things," Beetem said.

While the Historic Preservation Commission is a valuable resource in the city, Watson said, she suggested the commission expand its role, including become more involved in inventory and designation, monitor conditions and issues, provide information and guidance to property owners, and offer more public engagement.

"You are the eyes and ears of the city so as this plan moves forward, you need to see how it is unfolding and you need to see what your city needs," she said.

The commission should also help the city find ways to tell its history and growth, Watson said.

Heritage Strategies will finalize the historic preservation plan by August.

The Jefferson City Council approved a $30,000 contract with Heritage Strategies in December 2018. The Missouri State Historic Preservation Office will pay 50 percent of the contract cost, Jefferson City Neighborhood Services Manager Jayme Abbott previously said.

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