The plot thickens on Pinehurst historic landmark status

The Fayetteville Observer profiled the Pinehurst mayoral race this week, and included THIS passage:

Fiorillo said her primary goal as mayor would be implementing changes to the Village Green, which would include creating a grassy park and expanding the library.

Those changes have been opposed by the National Park Service, which oversees the village’s National Historic Landmark status. Fiorillo said the village has done research that shows the changes would not jeopardize Pinehurst’s historic status.

She said those changes are necessary to ensure Pinehurst is ready for the back-to-back U.S. Open tournaments at the resort in 2014.

Marcum believes the two council members running for mayor are wrong about Pinehurst. He said they were wrong to approve the expansion of the Village Chapel and continued to endanger the village’s historic status when they proposed making changes to the Village Green.

“I am increasingly concerned that the council has undertaken a number of initiatives that may actually hurt us in the future,” he said.

The village needs a mayor who can work with the state and federal agencies on major issues and not against them, he said.

Marcum said he can repair the village’s damaged relationship with the Parks Service and work with other agencies to help Pinehurst because of his experience working in industry as an engineer and later in Washington.

Concerned Citizens of Pinehurst (a community group founded a few years back by mayoral candidate John Marcum) has released emails between group leaders Doug Middaugh and Paul Dunn and National Park Service representative  Christine Arato, which appear to indicate a slightly different version of the story.  Arato wrote on November 1:

Dear Mr. Dunn,
> Thank you for your kind inquiry. The National Park Service certainly
> appreciates all of the care that residents have demonstrated for the
> Pinehurst Historic District NHL, and we continue to welcome all comments.
> Regarding “recent changes” to Pinehurst Course No. 2, I am unaware of
> these
> changes off-hand. Unfortunately, our files are being scanned to fulfill a
> FOIA request, so I do not have access to all documents. However, I cannot
> recall any indication from the Village or from any other party that
> changes
> were made to Pinehurst No. 2 since the property’s NHL designation. Would
> you please provide more details regarding the timing and extent of the
> changes? Were they substantive?
> The NPS is mandated to review the condition of all NHLs, and we rely upon
> “stewards” to report the condition of their properties. In this case, I
> believe that the request is sent to the Village, but their responses would
> be weighed together with any information received from other sources,
> including the state historic preservation officer. Generally, any
> resource
> that is identified as a contributing resource in the NHL nomination would
> be of concern to the NPS, and we would assess the impact of changes to
> these resources on the overall integrity of the district. Pinehurst
> Course
> No. 2 is a contributing resource, and its restoration in the latter part
> of
> the 20th century was integral to its inclusion within the nomination. See
> page 65, resource no. 274 of the Pinehurst Historic District NHL
> nomination.
> The NPS cannot dictate treatment alternatives to stewards. Rather, we
> serve
> as advisors, and are available to provide technical assistance to property
> owners. In the case of Pinehurst, it is not within our mandate to
> determine treatment decisions. However, the NPS is responsible for 
> ensuring
> that NHLs maintain their integrity, and for recommending de-designation of
> a property that has lost its integrity to the Landmarks Committee.
> Usually, the agency will notify a property owner of our intention to
> initiate a de-designation study if we believe that the property’s 
> integrity
> has been significantly compromised.
> Our recommendation to the Village echoes the advice that Charles Birnbaum,
> director of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, offere to the Village two
> years ago: namely, that the incremental changes throughout the district
> have eroded the property’s integrity, and a comprehensive planning effort
> and condition assessment would likely ensure that the Village did not
> continue to negatively impact the district’s integrity and significance.
> Again, the recommended study is not required, but we do believe that such 
> a
> study will help the Village and its residents to make informed decisions
> that will contribute to the preservation of its nationally significant
> resources.
> The Village submitted preliminary designs for the redesign of the Village
> Green parking area in June, 2011, and we voiced concerns regarding further
> development of the Green. The Village has not submitted any additional
> plans for our review. We have encouraged the Village to undertake
> comprehensive preservation planning, and have offered to review scopes of
> work. The NPS will continue to work to assist the Village in pursuing a
> sustainable strategy.
> If there are any detail of past or proposed changes to the district that
> you would like to share with our agency, please do not hesitate to contact
> me by phone or by e-mail.
> Regards,
> Christine
> Christine Arato
> Acting Chief, History Branch, Southeast Region
> NHL Program Manager, Southeast Region

Ms. Arato also wrote to Concerned Citizens’  Doug Middaugh on November 1:

 Dear Mr. Middaugh,
> Many thanks for a copy of the recent Pilot article. NPS employees are
> asked not to speak directly to the press, but rather to route all press
> inquiries to our public affairs officer to ensure that the response
> accurately represents the agency’s position. I have not spoken to the
> press, nor to members of the Village Council. While I did speak with Mr.
> Wilkison and the Village’s legal counsel earlier this summer, I do not
> recall making that statement and believe that if I had said anything
> approximately such a statement, then such a quote has been taken grossly
> out of context.
> Regards,
> Christine

Here is the National Historic Landmark Program’s page on The Village of Pinehurst.   Has the study mentioned by Ms. Arato been done?  If so, she did not seem to be aware of it on November 1, 2011.