State historic preservation officials are set next week to review the city of Westfield’s plans to widen State Road 32, which would require demolishing or relocating four commercial buildings in its downtown’s historic district.
The six-person Indiana Historic Preservation Review Board made up of architects, archeologists, historic preservationists and other relevant professionals will hold an in-person meeting at 1:30 p.m., April 14, at 130 Penn St., in the Westfield City Hall Assembly Room.
The city has filed for a Certificate of Appropriateness to proceed with expanding State Road 32 in such a way that would lead to demolishing or relocating four of the Westfield Historic District’s 51 buildings.
The board could approve the Certificate of Appropriateness or vote to continue its review after issuing recommendations to the city for changes to the plan.
Chris Smith, a deputy director with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and chair of the board, said the certificate could be approved in a single meeting with a majority vote.
“If the board feels there’s something lacking, they can send it back to be discussed to see if there’s an ability to come to an agreement,” Smith said.
The city of Westfield and INDOT announced last December their preferred path for an estimated $15 million State Road 32 widening project, running from just east of the Poplar Street roundabout to just east of Timberbrook Run.
The Westfield Historic District is bounded by Penn Street on the north, Walnut Street on the east, Park Street on the south and Camilla Court on the west. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in January 2019, and that designation could be threatened by the loss of the four structures.
Although the project’s designers have avoided the need to disturb buildings on the north side of the street, the expansion from three to five lanes will encroach upon buildings at 101, 102 and 103 S. Union St., as well as 111 E. Main St.
It has yet to be decided whether those structures would be demolished or relocated.
The widening project aims to alleviate congestion caused by more than 19,000 vehicles traveling that road each day.
The design has been questioned by historic preservationists for years. The Westfield Preservation Alliance has floated an online petition to reconsider the project’s impact. Marla Ailor, a member of that group, has proposed it be re-envisioned as a boulevard with a reduced footprint.
Also on the board’s agenda are 11 applications for properties across the state to be added to the national historic register and several grants. Smith said the plan is to stagger audience attendance so that once the property application reviews are complete, that audience will filter out and those interested in Westfield’s petition may filter in.
Although the state mandate has lifted, the city is encouraging people to wear masks.