MANSFIELD -- Mansfield newcomer Julie Rohl and longtime resident Tracy Bond have an impressive amount of education, experience and passion for saving local historical properties.
The two women have teamed to encourage preservation initiatives in Richland County through their newly formed Richland Preservation Action Group.
The group was created earlier this summer aimed at creating and fostering local connections between professionals and craftsmen as a way to benefit homeowners, businesses and overall quality of life.
“We thought there was a need to get younger people more engaged,” Bond said. “I think we just didn't see enough ... engagement. We see there's people who care, but we want to connect with them and get them involved.”
The group’s website and Facebook page frequently features available historic homes. This includes a list of Land Bank eligible properties, ones that could be demolished if someone doesn’t step forward with plans to repair them, and other historic properties that listed for sale in Richland County.
“We see a need for more hands on rehab and saving properties and being smart about development,” Bond said. “We’d like to try to find people to take on land bank projects.”
Rohl was born in Massachusetts, and moved to Ohio to study building preservation and restoration at Belmont College. She earned an associate's degree, and has since lived all over the United States. She’s spent time in California, West Virginia and Mississippi, but the past year, she’s lived in Mansfield.
“The growth here appears to be organic and natural. It's not like a lot of places that don't know what to do, so they're just trying to be Brooklyn,” Rohl said.
This excites her, and Bond, too.
“I think us meeting and starting this is at a good time,” said Bond.
She’s seen a trend to move to or near downtown Mansfield recently, which features many historic properties, and many in need of rehab.
“We just want to be a positive image against the decay and the notion of going down. We want to say, ‘yeah, this is beautiful, it has potential, even if it's ugly right now,’” Rohl said.
To encourage and help people who take on historic projects, the two hope to organize training sessions. Perhaps one training would be “affordable things that you can do to improve your house.”
The Richland Preservation Action Group intends to meet the last Wednesday of every month. The next meeting is at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28 at the Oak Hill Cottage's Carriage House.