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Federal help for elevators and fire suppression tax credits for historic buildings in a historic district

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced a plan last week aimed at preventing losses from huge fires, proposing a Congressional bill for $50,000 refundable federal tax credit for property owners who install sprinkler systems or elevators in old multi-use buildings in historic downtowns.

This might work – if passed – for our combined historic estates, if the town were to expand the historic district parameters.

Ventfort Hall is just outside of the district, but its leaders could seek to be included in an expansion plan by the town meeting members. Leaders of Ventfort Hall have been seeking money for an elevator in recent years.

As the Senator notes, this bill will save the downtown areas from large fires that not only destroy a building, but create devastation to all of the businesses on the street, because people don’t think of it as any more as a shopping district or a place to spend time and walk the streets.

Sen. Leahy said the federal government spent $30 million on rebuilding and recovering from 10 Vermont block fires in the past 13 years.

“If the sprinkler and elevator credit I’ve proposed today had existed then, perhaps the federal government could have saved that $30 million, and even more importantly, the three people lost could be with us today,” Sen. Leahy said.

Locally, change of use or transfer in title has caused the building inspector to demand plans for a fire suppression system, and in some cases, an elevator has been installed much to the chagrin of the owner.

Several B&Bs have had to adhere to a status quo due to the rules and proposed costs.

One observer told New England Cable News (NECN) that he knows that for some real estate owners, installing the systems can be a costly venture. “It ultimately comes down to money.¬†People have a hard time justifying that expense.¬†Hopefully this bill that the senator is proposing is going to help make it easier for current property owners to go in and retrofit their buildings and make their property safer.”

As for the observer, he hopes Congress passes Leahy’s life safety tax credit idea, calling it protection for downtowns everywhere, and for the people who live, work, and shop there. “We need all of our buildings in our downtowns.”

The time to act is now, before a fire or potential injury occurs.

 

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Posted by on August 15, 2013. Filed under Opinion,View from the Tower. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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