The Issue: Adel’s downtown square is home to many historic buildings and the Adel Historic Preservation Commission is working to develop historic guidelines for preservation of the town’s history.

Local Impact: In order for the city to officially adopt a set of historic building guidelines, they must first hire an architecture firm to develop the guidelines, something the City of Adel can’t provide funding for at this time.

Whether it is the style of architecture or the famous brick streets, the city of Adel, Iowa is full of rich history. However, when it comes to protecting these one-of-a-kind historical characteristics, the rules and regulations are rather limited.

In an attempt to sustain those timeless attributes that make the city unique, the Adel Historic Preservation Commission has worked together to not only bring awareness to the preservation of the town's history, but also to establish guidelines in order to preserve these features.

“The square has been registered as a historic district,” said Rich Hughes, Adel Historic Preservation Commission Chair. “Several years ago, the city obtained a CLG [Certified Local Government] grant and did a facade on a number of the buildings on the square. Right now with the facades, I think they look nice and freshly painted. It will be a couple of years when the questions come up and we want to be prepared with some guidelines we would like to see complied with. The intent is to provide some assistance as opposed to an obstacle.”

However, whenever the discussion of incorporating any new changes or regulations emerges, the cost of these new additions becomes a definite concern.

“Everybody says 'oh, it's going to be onerous to the owner.' We don't want that. We want to maintain the historical aspects and not run up the costs,” Hughes said.

While the intent is to keep costs low, some funding will still be required, and there are currently a variety of ways that the city of Adel and the Adel Historic Preservation Commission can raise the funds needed for establishing mandatory guidelines.

“The commission sought funding from the Adel City Council during the most recent budget process. The council was unable to provide funding this year but they will look at it in future years,” said Anthony Brown, Adel City Administrator.

Other funding sources range from donations from local businesses to local and CLG grants. However, the process is still a long one and the truth is, it could be a matter of years before any mandatory guidelines can be implemented.

“Because the city is a Certified Local Government (CLG) through Iowa's State Historic Preservation Office, there are certain conditions that must be met before the city can implement mandatory guidelines,” Brown said. “One of the conditions is to hire an architect to develop the guidelines. At this point in time, the cost for hiring the architect is not feasible.”

Because of this, the Adel Historic Preservation Commission is currently looking to implement more short-term options. While continuing to pursue the process of mandatory guidelines, the commission is also working to develop a voluntary set of guidelines in order to bring awareness to the community.

Once these guidelines are determined, if a business owner wanted to remodel any aspect of their building structure, he or she would first approach the city for a building permit. At that time the business owner would then receive information regarding the guidelines to preserve the historical structure of their building. Assistance from the Adel Historic Preservation Commission on interpreting these guidelines would also be available upon request.

In addition, the Adel Historical Preservation Commission has a two major other projects they are currently working to develop.

The first includes providing plaques for each historical building. These plaques would provide more history on the property, including when it was built, what it started out as and background information regarding previous tenants of the building.

The other involves the addition of local landmarks on the historic register. These could include buildings such as the depot and the old Adel Library.

“Russell Abstract and Title is a classic example, it was started in the 1870's,” Hughes said. “That's a business that's almost 150 years old, passed down from generation to generation. How many businesses do you know that are 100 years old and here it is, you have one right here in Adel.”