OUR VIEWS: History is part of our economy

Jun 1, 2012


Each year, the city of Grand Haven spends about $25,000 to preserve local landmarks and spearhead fundraising and maintenance efforts. This seems like a lot of money —money that could be spent on sidewalks, road repairs or other city infrastructure. Some say we can’t afford to invest that much money into historical landmarks.

But what we cannot afford to lose is our history. All of our historical landmarks are assets to our community.

These landmarks — including the coal tipple, the Pere Marquette train and the lighthouse — all draw tourists. With these visitors comes tourism dollars that support our vibrant community.

The historical artifacts also serve as a backdrop in photos, and root us all in our rich history.

This history is becoming more of a draw in recent years, according to local historians. Awareness adds substance to the present, noted Wallace Ewing, a local author and historian. He said a majority of people wants to learn about the history of their environment.

Preserving the local historical artifacts, however, takes coordination. It means that city officials must spend some time and resources.

They should, however, seek to unburden taxpayers from the $25,000-per-year weight of preservation.

City officials should seek out private groups, foundations and agencies to spearhead such efforts. The city should maintain control of some of these landmarks, but work to build local groups of interested and invested individuals who will do the heavy lifting.

Preserving history need not be a liability.

There is value in our history and we need to renew our commitment for its preservation for our grandchildren. But let’s work as a community of interested parties to care for our history, rather than relying on city dollars.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Kevin Collier and Liz Stuck. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



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