Alpine has been chosen as one of four cities in Texas to participate in an online historic inventory by the Texas Historical Commission.

Chamber of Commerce President Martha Latta has agreed to be the point person to find local volunteer help, but she said last week that she is still on a learning curve.

She hopes to meet with Emily Koller, the commission’s point person, later this month.

The intent of the tool is to manage historic resource survey information and real estate property information for downtown commercial property in an online, broadly accessible platform.

Parts will be publicly searchable, so someone looking for lease opportunities or historic photos of downtown buildings would hopefully find this site first.

Latta told our informal economic development group recently that she wanted to see it happen and has agreed to take the lead if she can get volunteer support.

The Texas Historical Commission is asking for volunteers to support the site creation but is not seeking financial contributions.

Koller approached Kip Sullivan, head of the civic group Historic Alpine, seeking local volunteers to help develop the program. Sullivan queried his board but got only one potential volunteer, albeit a very good one.

He put out feelers to the community looking for other volunteers and our economic development group decided we could make it happen. But we still needed a point person.

That’s when Latta stepped up to the plate.

She said she still is uncertain how it could work, and, since it’s a pilot program, things could and probably will change as the program develops.

For one thing, it is designed around the historical commission’s Main Street program.

Alpine was a Main Street city 20 years ago and Historic Alpine grew out of that project.

The other pilot cities all are part of the state agency’s Certified Local Government program.

Koller said the inventory project is funded by grants to develop a new software tool to assist local historic preservation programs with survey and inventory.

Three pilot communities were selected initially: San Angelo, San Antonio and Palestine. But one of the private investors asked that a West Texas community be included and the commission noted “Alpine’s unique, historic downtown and … existing organizational capacity with Historic Alpine.”

Koller said that the pilot cities would provide “data and photographs to populate the inventory and then will be responsible for testing the user features and functionality.”

The commission’s goal is to work with the pilot communities “to successfully create the software and then provide it free of charge to all communities in Texas that participate in any of the agency’s programs,” Koller said.

Initially, the software would serve downtown managers in their revitalization programs only, but the commission later expanded the to include needs of local historical preservation officials.

Jim Street covers Alpine and Brewster County for the Avalanche. He can be reached at 432-837-3334 or reporter@alpineavalanche.com.