There will be a new voice advising the Highland City Council on matters of historical preservation in Highland.
The council voted Monday to establish a historical commission as an advisory body to the city council. This commission is in addition to the Highland Historical Society, which maintains the Highland Museum and the chapel at the Highland cemetery, among other activities.
City attorney Michael McGinley said the commission will meet quarterly, but can be called upon to provide input as needed. He said the commission will not have direct power over private property or real estate and will not serve as a veto on proposals.
“It just gives members a formalized forum to teach citizens about history, research the history of the town and provide that information to the council,” McGinley said. “(Their votes) do not supersede the decisions made by the council.”
Mayor Joe Michaelis said the historical commission could serve to mediate disputes. For example, he said, there was a recent disagreement between neighbors over removal of a brick sidewalk that dated back to the early days of Highland. Commission members could have researched the history and mediated between the neighbors on the impact of the decision, and advised the council on its eventual vote.
“They’re like a voice for this council,” Michaelis said. “They will go out and actively examine these issues ... They will work with the general public in private and in businesses, try to help find solutions and make recommendations.”
The new commission will be composed of five volunteer members who must be residents of the city or deemed to have sufficient qualifications, and will serve three-year terms designed to be staggered so only one or two will be up for reappointment at a given year.
No member may be appointed for more than two consecutive three-year terms, but can be reappointed after a minimum one-year absence. The members of the commission will name their own chairman each year, and their meetings will be subject to the Open Meetings Act.
Pavilion at Silver Lake Park named after Roland Harris
The council also voted to name a pavilion at Silver Lake Park after Roland Harris, 94, referred to in the motion as “Highland’s historian.” Harris is the third generation descended from the original landowner of Silver Lake Park, James G. Reynolds. Harris is curator of the Highland Museum and founder of the Highland Historical Society in 1971, leading efforts to renovate and preserve the Latzer Homestead and City Cemetery Chapel. Harris was present at the meeting with his wife of 72 years, Lorna Harris.
Another pavilion has been named after L.G. Beaird, mayor of Highland from 1953-57 who spearheaded the creation of the 550-acre Silver Lake — which apparently Highland residents at the time referred to as “Beaird’s Folly,” according to the proclamation issued by the city.
Though public sentiment was a risk to his personal businesses, according to the proclamation, Beaird worked to get a $400,000 referendum passed to begin work on Silver Lake after a 10-million gallon reservoir dried up in a drought, and four years after he left office, Silver Lake was completed for a total of $1.09 million. It now provides billions of gallons of water for Highland residents and industries.