The Perth Amboy Historical Preservation Commission (HPC) recently gave a presentation to the City Council that discussed the loss of historic and architectural sites in Perth Amboy. They presented ideas how local preservation can be improved. The commission said that 51 catalogued local sites have been demolished between 1978 and 2016. Two sites demolished were on the NJ and National Historic registers. Also, the commission said that many more sites that were catalogue have been changed in such a way that they are no longer worth preserving.
The Perth Amboy Historic Preservation Commission is one of the City’s four land use boards- the others are planning, zoning and redevelopment. The role of the Historic Preservation Commission is advisory to these other boards, and they are supposed to be included in the process where local landmarks and historic sites are concerned. Instead they have been sidestepped and applications for development have not been going before the historic commission for review and development decisions have been made no recommendations from HPC to the other boards or development applicants. The goal of historic preservation is to allow development options to occur and still keep the city’s assets. The commissions said they are interested especially in preserving the two dozen terra cotta buildings the city has, which are part of a rich history of the City’s well documented terra cotta industry.
They recommended revisions to the historic preservation ordinance that lists specific sites, makes funding available for professionals in preservation and calls on the administration to designate a position to work part time on the coordination of preservation efforts. The city’s historic sites are valuable assets, for tourism and the maintaining the identity of the City as an important place in US and NJ history, making all property and residence here more valuable and desirable.