City council approves historic study

The city council approved a study of an historic part of Waterloo with ties to the African American community. "Smokey Row" has been a part of Waterloo for more than one-hundred years and a resolution banning demolition in that area was also brought to the council. 

"It is part of Waterloo," said city councilman Patrick Morrisey. Morrissey brought up at Monday’s city council meeting the idea of halting all demolition in smokey row after they voted unanimously to approve a survey specifically looking at properties with an African American heritage. 

"You want to have that area not change, as far as the structures on it or any kind of work they’re doing there," said Morrisey. 

 "Waterloo might be one of those lucky communities that gets a chance to save their neighborhood with something like this," said Waterloo native Charles Pearson. He hopes the survey could lead to possible tax credits for property owners in the area. 

"We’re here too. Preservation isn’t just for developers to get a tax credit but its also for people who own a property that tells a story," said Pearson. 

Pearson says preserving the history of "Smokey Row" is an opportunity to highlight African American history in Waterloo. 

"A lot of time when we talk about the black community it’s something negative, now for the first time we have an opportunity to talk about something great that can benefit our community as a whole," said Pearson. 

Morrisey hopes a closer look will also benefit the entire city. 

"We treasure different areas of town, its not just the new developments, its our history, that’s what we learn from," said Morrisey. 

There isn’t an official demolition ban just yet but he expects to pass it as a resolution in the coming weeks. 

 That survey will take about one year to complete and is being paid for by a state grant and city bonds. 
 

 

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