Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Historical panel says Scottsdale's Kerr easement plan needs more work

[Source: Lesley Wright, Arizona Republic] -- Scottsdale's Historic Preservation Commission said this week that Arizona State University would have to do a better job on a conservation easement for the Kerr Cultural Center. After listening to artists and residents blast the reputation of ASU for historical conservation, the commissioners delayed a vote for the easement Thursday and sent it back to the negotiating table. "The more we can get into this document the better," said Commissioner Rob Viergutz.

The commission began talks with ASU in January, after the university said the city couldn't legally impose historic zoning on state property. But a score of artists and residents from around the Valley argued that ASU could not be trusted to allow the 50-year-old center to continue its role as an arts venue. That was the intent of composer and arts patron Louise Lincoln Kerr, who bequeathed the site to ASU in 1977, her descendents argued. "It was her wish that this continue in perpetuity," said Dorothy Lincoln Smith, who spoke to her sister-in-law just before her death.

Arizona State Historian Marshall Trimble said that ASU has been making it difficult for artists to perform there. "I think it's very clear that ASU is trying to terminate what Louise Lincoln Kerr intended when she donated it," Trimble said. "It's not the ASU I used to know." Paul Berumen, ASU's director of local government affairs, said the proposed easement would guarantee the buildings and that the university has no plans to alter the site at 6110 N. Scottsdale Road. "This easement gets us to the point where we are able to work as partners to protect the site," Berumen said.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Arizona Republic.]