LETTERS OPPOSING
HISTORICAL COMMISSION
BUDGET CUTS

From Dr. Michele Williams,
Florida Public Archeology Network at FAU

On October 12th, the Broward County Commission voted to consolidate the Broward County Historical Commission into the Broward County Public Library system. In doing so, they cut $275,000 out of the Historical Commission budget resulting in the termination of entire staff with the exception of the County Archaeologist. The county administrator erroneously determined that the Public Library and Historical Commission staff had duplicate skills; therefore Library staff could take over the Commissions duties. Unfortunately, no one at the Public Library (or other county departments) is a recognized professional in the field of history and preservation, and they lack the Historical Commission staffs’ unique skill sets of relating to the preservation and curation of Broward County’s past.

Please take a moment to write to Broward County Mayor Ken Keechl (kkeechl@broward.org), and let him know your concerns on this issue as a preservation-minded citizen. I know that many of you may not be residents of Broward County, but this issue deserves a state-wide outcry.

Thank you for your time and concern,

Michele Williams, Ph.D., RPA
Director, Southeast Region
Florida Public Archaeology Network at FAU
111 East Las Olas Blvd
Suite AT817
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301
Office: 954.762.5174
Cell: 954.254.9657
Email: sercpa@fau.edu
Website: http://www.flpublicarchaeology.org/serc/


From Steve Glassman,
Historical Commission Member

Good afternoon, Mayor, Vice Mayor, and Commissioners,

This afternoon I and 60 other residents of Broward County attended the monthly Brown Bag Luncheon at the Broward County Historical Commission – an educational event that I have enjoyed for many years. So many of us stayed after the program to talk with each other because we were very saddened by your recent actions in effectively eliminating this worthwhile agency.

At the recent budget hearing, the County Administrator labeled the move “an efficiency,” but nothing could be further from the truth. Have you ever met Helen Landers or attended one of her events? If you did, then you know her to be a colorful, precious asset in this County; her knowledge as Historian as well as the knowledge of the Curator, the Administrative Assistant, and the Administrator cannot be matched by anyone in the Library Division.

Because of charter constraints you had to retain the position of the Archaeologist, but he is being shipped to a division where he will be forced to work in isolation and that is not efficient.

In February, more than 300 people (including the Governor and many of you) attended the grand opening of the new home of the Broward County Historical Commission. Everyone sang its praises and talked of the importance of respecting, protecting, and preserving our history. Millions of taxpayer dollars were spent to restore the historic West Side School, and now this? With all due respect, your actions are shortsighted and send a chilling message not only through our County, but across the state and country. I dare say that you get quite a return on the miniscule $275,000 annual budget of this agency; well worth the cost and money well spent.

Firing the staff is unacceptable, and thinking that Library staff can just assume the highly specialized work is naïve and disrespectful of the profession. These are specifically trained and educated professionals in the field of historic preservation and librarians do not have the skill set nor are they equipped to assume the duties and responsibilities of these people which include working with local, state, and national agencies.

This Saturday is the County’s 38th Annual Pioneer Day, and the inside cover of the Souvenir Program contains a wonderful message from the Mayor (a history major) and a group photo of all of you. Please honor our County’s heritage and ensure that our history is never forgotten by future generations of Broward citizens; you can accomplish this by reconsidering your draconian actions.

Thank you so much for listening and for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Steven Glassman
Broward County Historical Commissioner


From Susan Gillis,
Historian for Fort Lauderdale's Centennial

Friends:
Our Gold Coaster Denyse Cunningham is still in danger of losing her job!! Due to budget cuts, the Broward county administrator is considering replacing the BCHC staff with BC librarians as some sort of interim arrangement. No disrespect to our librarian buds but not quite the same as a curator or archivist--not to mention it will take them 8 years to have Denyse's current knowledge of her collections. Please contact the BC commissioners to request them not to replace the staff and fund them for another year. SG


To County Commissioner John Rodstrom
From Cal Deal

We hold the link to our history on a very thin threat. We cannot afford to lose the institutional memory that the tiny handful of employees of the Historical Commission represent. Knowledge like that is irreplaceable, and in a history-starved community like this, it's extremely valuable.

My little neighborhood north of Broward General was the core of the original Croissant Park development of the 1920s. The president of Woods-Hoskins-Young, the developers, lived in a mansion on what is now the United Way property. Frank Croissant's big "Croissant Park" gateway was on Andrews just north of the Tarpon River. His million-dollar hotel, The Croissantania, was in what is now the emergency room parking lot. He built a house for his mom around the corner on Andrews ... and he died in that house in 1956.

I have learned much of this in my recent visits to the city and county historical archives.

It was in the Broward Historical Commission offices that I recently learned of an overlooked booklet of images taken of my neighborhood before and after the 1926 hurricane. For years I had been trying to find old photos of this area without success, but with the help of Denyse Cunningham in the County offices, I turned up a gold mine of 38 images. The booklet is stored in the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society files. I have had high resolution scans made of all of them, and plan to make the images available to the public through my email list and web site.

Shutting down parks is terrible, but at least they can be reopened. Destroying the institutional memory of our history is something else again. We cannot afford such a permanent and painful loss. The Historical Commission staff needs to be preserved intact.

Best,

Cal

 

First Historical Commission Page