Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Easement suggested to protect Scottsdale's Kerr Center

[Source: Lesley Wright, Arizona Republic] -- After hours of debate, Scottsdale Historical Preservation Commissioners said that an Arizona State University conservation easement was the best protection they could get for the Kerr Cultural Center. Commissioners agreed 6-0 Thursday to recommend that the City Council accept the easement so the 50-year-old performance center can receive some protection and be nominated for state and federal historic registers.

The center at 6110 N. Scottsdale Road consists of the home and studio-performance hall of composer and philanthropist Louise Lincoln Kerr, who donated the site to ASU in 1977. Scottsdale discussed historic zoning for the site, but ASU said the city has no authority to zone state-owned land. The university proposed the conservation easement to reach the same goals. Hundreds of musicians and residents have pleaded with the commission and the university to protect the adjacent parking lot so the center can continue with performances.

ASU officials said the parking lot is not a historic site, but that the terms of the will govern the continued use of the center. Commissioner Nancy Dallett said the city had done its best. "We've done everything in our power to get the best conservation easement we can," Dallett said. "I think this easement is very strong." Commissioner Ed Wimmer said residents would have to keep the university's feet to the fire. "The community here this evening needs to be vigilant because this commission has very limited scope," he said. "You as voters have bigger scope. The state Legislature is your leverage." The City Council is expected to approve the recommended conservation easement at an upcoming meeting.