Joint Statement from Nantucket Preservation Trust and ’Sconset Trust on the Dissolution of the HDC Advisory Boards

The following letter was sent to the Select Board on behalf of Nantucket Preservation Trust and the ’Sconset Trust.

Dear Chair Bridges,

We are writing on behalf of the Boards of the Nantucket Preservation Trust and ’Sconset Trust regarding the recent (and one hopes, temporary) dissolution of the Nantucket Historic District Commission (HDC) Advisory Boards (Historic Structures Advisory Board, ’Sconset Advisory Board, Madaket Advisory Board, Tuckernuck Advisory Board, and Sign Advisory Council).

At the most recent Select Board Meeting held August 17, 2022, Town Counsel noted that while the HDC does not have the ability to appoint these advisory boards, the Select Board holds exclusive power to appoint such advisory boards and committees. You indicated that the reconstitution by the Select Board would be addressed in September.

We believe strongly in the importance of both preservation and process and look forward to the expedient reconstitution of these Advisory Boards by the Select Board, in consultation with the Chair of the HDC. The Advisory Boards provide important knowledge from historians, architects, preservationists, and residents who possess an intimate understanding of the unique preservation concerns of each of these neighborhoods.

The HDC reviews approximately one hundred applications per week and relies on the specialized, localized expertise of these Advisory Boards to ensure the proposed changes to the island’s Historic District are in keeping with each neighborhood’s character. As Nantucket’s Historic District encompasses the entire island, Advisory Board members frequently photograph and view historic buildings in context with their streetscape and neighborhood, a task that would take the HDC members untold number of hours were they to travel throughout ’Sconset, the Old Historic District, Madaket, and to the remote outpost of Tuckernuck Island.

It is critical that appointment of the HDC Advisory Committees be taken up by the Select Board in consultation with the HDC chair. The chance to serve on these boards should be an open, fair, process like every other appointed board and committee in the Town of Nantucket. The Select Board can use this opportunity to clarify roles, responsibilities, and improve the HDC advisory process for applicants and committee members.

Nantucket’s success as a world-class resort destination is intrinsically linked to historic preservation. Reconstituting the HDC Advisory Boards will help preserve Nantucket for future generations. We would be happy to work with the Select Board or Town Administration in any way that can be of assistance in this process.


Mary Bergman
Executive Director
Nantucket Preservation Trust

Betsy Grubbs
Executive Director
’Sconset Trust

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