To the editor:

If the Chautauqua were held on the hilltop, who would come? How much of a success would it be? That is one example in a line of events held downtown which ties the success of the events with the integrity of our historical heritage.

We natives of Madison did not notice our significant treasures which constitute our now-famed historic designation. It took an outsider, John T. Windle, to wake our senses and to fight City Hall and other powers that were not interested in preserving these treasures. Through the years many others have stepped forward to do the ever-needed reminding of what we have.

We forget we are caretakers in a moment of time in the life of the buildings we call home.

Does the City of Madison need a preservation planner? The question reappears over the years with a 'yes we do', then a 'no we don't.' The vote several years ago decided 'no', that a brochure would be better. The gentleman who held the position was excellent at his job with his learned opinions and suggestions, the brochure was not.

We've come full circle once again. It's the same question. Decisions made during these 'no' times have shown we are not so good at the job; the lines of preservation get blurred.

This special city of ours needs the knowledge, the professionalism, and the benefit of such a planner. We are fortunate at this time to have the service of Camille Fife who brings energy with her knowledge to the job, as well as a love for the city.

Our preservation policies are seen by many as too restrictive, when in fact they are soft, especially when compared to cities of the northeast and other areas in our country.

In Charleston, S.C.'s famed district, paint choices are limited to eight. While in Boston, I learned that their firehouses are not altered for new equipment, the new fire trucks are ordered to fit their firehouses.

But what is downtown Madison besides a great place to live and to visit? It's a business. It brings money into the city in many ways. Every business needs the right personnel who understand its product, every business needs nurturing and a constant vigilance in order to reach its full potential. Yes, Madison needs a professional preservation planner.

Deanna Shelley