Helana Rutner, acting Historic Preservation Officer for the Phoenix City Council, says that the importance of preserving buildings is worth the disagreements that may come with the territory.
Rutner, who has been with the historic preservation office for almost 5 years, describes herself as a “liaison for the (historic preservation) committee.”
“The role of the committee is to preserve and protect buildings from being demolished,” said Public Information Officer Angie Holdsworth.
Rutner said that her job can be difficult because of the conflicting opinions about which buildings to keep and which to tear down.
“You’re never going to make both sides happy. You’re kind of stuck negotiating between the two, hoping for the best result you can get,” she said.
Overall, she believes the work she is doing is beneficial to Phoenix, as a city and community.
She said that Phoenix is unique because the effect of WWII is significant to the structure of the city.
“Phoenix has been built on people migrating to the sunbelt ever since World War II and I think one thing … for people on the east coast, that history (and significance of WWII) doesn’t resonate with them,” she said.
Rutner said that all the buildings provide a “sense of place.”
She continued, saying “If you lose all your historic pieces, you no longer have that sense of place or sense of origin.”
She also said that new people coming into phoenix may not know that history, so keeping up buildings helps convey the city’s past.
Additionally, Kevin Weight who is Principal Planner for the commission talked more on the benefits of preserving buildings.
He said “There’s social and cultural benefits. It helps build a sense of community and sense of place. There are a lot of economic benefits that a lot of people don’t realize. It helps create jobs and affordable housing.”
Angie Holdsworth, also said that a lot of times you don’t realize how important a building is, til you take a deeper look at it.
“Maybe they didn’t realize something was so great until they started peeling back the rock a little bit,” Holdsworth said.
Even though everyone may not agree with Rutner, she still pushes through.
“I’ve never felt personally attacked. There is always an opportunity to sit down with different folks and listen to different viewpoints. Maybe I don’t agree with what this person is saying but let me (try to) understand it from their viewpoint but also an opportunity for me to grow from it.”
Helana Rutner has made it a point to preserve the rich history of Phoenix and its buildings. Even though there are differing opinions, that does not stop her from doing her job. Rutner tries her best to make decisions for the overall good of the community.
Phoenix, as a city, has roots that go all the way back to WWII. Rutner said that keeping and preserving buildings ensures the integrity of Phoenix.