Park Service to make Hobson visit

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 8, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Hobson’s grassroots effort to have its community added to state and federal historic registers may pay off.

On Friday, during a meeting with representative of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources at Macedonia Church, residents found out that an official from the National Park Service – which oversees federal designations – will assess Hobson’s qualifications in late September.


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&uot;I’m not surprised, just overwhelmed,&uot; said resident Mary Hill, who has been spearheading efforts with VDHS. She has also made numerous appeals to the City Council for funding to help preserve the community.

The city has included funding in its current capital budget to begin work on a village plan for Hobson, said Councilman E. Dana Dickens III.

During the meeting, Weiss and Bob Carter, also with the state historic resources agency, stressed that the state and federal historic designations would be strictly honorary.

Hill has said she believes the designations would help the community win grant funding to begin repairing and restoring some structures in Hobson.

Over the past year, the city has become more aggressive in enforcing city code violations, issuing citations for high grass and dilapidated housing. At least twice, the city has razed vacant homes after repeated citations to property owners were ignored.

Hill said the group would like the city to designate Hobson as a historic district, which would reduce the chance of dilapidated buildings being destroyed. The group isn’t interested in the less restrictive conservation status, largely because it would not prevent Neighborhood Development from using its enforcement measures.

&uot;We are in this situation and we don’t need that kind of harassment,&uot; Hill said. &uot;We want to be compliant and…we want Hobson to become the vibrant community it once was.

&uot;But people’s age and incomes change,&uot; she continued. &uot;We are not sitting idle waiting for the city to give us a token. We just need a little time.

&uot;The local historic designation would give us the protection to preserve the little that we have left.&uot;

Regardless of the designation, residents will still have to meet building standards, Carter said.

&uot;You can’t get around dealing with building codes. Meeting them is a responsibility we all have.&uot;

He and Weiss recommended the group give serious consideration to establishing community housing development organization, which would make government grants and low-interest loans available to the community. A CHDO is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to providing affordable housing to residents.