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Neighborhoods could be part of historic district

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MASON CITY — Residents of the Forest Park and Wildwood areas of Mason City met Wednesday with city and environmental officials to learn about the historic potential of their neighborhoods and the implications for homeowners.

Mason City City Planner Tricia Sandahl and Andrew Schmidt, director of cultural resources with Summit Envirosolutions in St. Paul, Minn., led the two-hour meeting, providing information and answering numerous questions.

“We believe that there are a large number of houses in the Forest Park and Wildwood neighborhoods that are largely intact in their original form,” Sandahl said.

“These houses, as a collection, represent several distinct and important periods of development in the community and, as such, are excellent candidates for inclusion on the National Register.”

Classification as a historic district would likely increase homeowners’ property values, Sandahl said, and potentially make them eligible for state or federal tax credits for rehabilitation grants.

The area is bounded by Pierce Avenue, Willow Creek, Crescent Drive and Third Street Northwest. It was settled in the 1910s and 1920s, during a period of rapid growth in Mason City, Schmidt said.

Houses north of First Street Northwest are considered part of Wildwood.

Schmidt told the residents, some of whom came prepared with early plat maps and other historic information, that a historical survey will be taken to inventory the neighborhood properties.

“We’re looking for architectural integrity,” he said.

Property potentially eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places individually or as contributing to a National Register Historic District will be identified.

To be considered a Historic District, at least 50 percent of the properties in a given area must contribute to its historic significance, Schmidt said.

Properties that have been significantly altered would be considered non-contributing.

Donna Sklavenitis, who lives at 850 First St. N.W., said she personally would love to see the neighborhood become a Historic District.

“It would improve our neighborhood, definitely,” she said.

The project is a mitigation activity to help compensate the community for the loss of historic homes due to the flood buyout, Sandahl said. It is being funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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