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President's Message

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spring has arrived and so has the busy season for our sites, the APTA staff and the Board of Directors. Several sites have begun their calendar of events and the board just completed a good working session at the Spring APTA Board meeting. We had a nice turnout for the APTA annual membership meeting at Belle Meade Plantation on May 10th. Many thanks to all who attended these meetings and to our speaker, Doug Jones. Special thanks are in order too for Alton Kelly our “resident auctioneer”. Again this year Alton conducted a fast moving auction that produced a considerable amount of revenue for the APTA. I saw many new faces at the annual membership meeting and hope many more new faces appear at future meetings. The strength of our organization is the membership and we constantly seek new members to become involved in our programs.

As I have mentioned before this year marks the 60th anniversary of the APTA. We have accomplished many things over those years. The APTA has preserved or played a role in the preservation of over 50 historic structures or sites during this time. It is a safe bet to say that some, if not many, of these historic structures or sites would have been lost without APTA involvement. We have run the course and we have done well in the preservation race. We plan to keep on this course.

At the same time, it is my belief that we can do so many other things in the future to help preserve Tennessee‘s past. Over the last couple of years I have promoted improving our organization by 1) networking with other preservation organizations to achieve common goals and 2) look for alternative ways to preserve historic sites to complement ownership of sites and the operation of house museums. I am not saying we should stop doing what we have done by any means. I am submitting that we need to increase the arsenal of options we use to preserve historic sites. I am using this message to briefly set forth several measures we need to explore and utilize to accomplish our organizational goals for the future.

The following preservation measures and techniques are followed by a brief explanation. The purpose of this article is not to provide an exhaustive treatment of all preservation alternatives, but to give our members a checklist of tools for consideration in preserving historic properties.

1. Conservation easements-a written agreement that protects use and conveys a measure of control over use without acquiring title to the property.

2. Life Estate- a form of legal ownership that allows the owner to keep property for life with the title to vest in a person or agency upon his or her death.

3.Options or rights of first refusal-a legally binding agreement that allows a person or organization some rights to purchase property at a future date or upon a future occurrence.

4. Donation of land- a donation of land to a non-profit with 501 (c) (3) tax status, like the APTA, can have beneficial tax treatment for the donor.

5. Property tax exchanges- in some instances an owner of historic property might be willing to exchange the historic property for another type of property or land. If properties exchanged are of equal value capital gains can be avoided under the tax code.

6. Historic covenants and restrictions- these are private restrictions that can be placed on properties by owners to preserve and protect the property. The APTA is already the benefited entity and enforcement entity on one property in West Tennessee.

7. Fee simple ownership- this is the transfer of title of property by purchase or gift.

Feel free to contact me or Elliott McNiel for additional information on this subject. I am urging all members and chapters to look at properties in your area with historic significance to see if any of these tools can be utilized to preserve these properties. Several of these options require significant expenditures while others do not. The APTA is in a position to provide some level of technical assistance free of charge to our chapters and members if you need help in using these tools to protect historic properties. I look forward to serving you in 2011-2012. Please let us know how we can help.