Saugerties Historic Preservation Commission questions cut in funding

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The Saugerties Historic Preservation Commission budget for the coming year is zero, compared to $ 15,000 last year. In a pre-city council meeting on Wednesday, February 3, Supervisor Fred Costello and City Councilor John Schoonmaker, the council liaison to the commission, assured commission chairman Stefan Yarabek that the commission had the full support of the board and that the commission could ask the board directly for the funding of any project it has underway this year.

The budget had been one of the most important for a city commission or committee, Schoonmaker said, and while the commission has many good ideas, the city has to be careful with its spending, and “we’re trying to find the balance between the two. . “

“It was like a punch in the guts,” Yarabek replied. John explained it very well, but there were murmurs from some of the board members – two to be honest, who were skeptical throughout the process. They are passionate about the story, but, “What does this Yarabek do all the time? and ‘you see, you’ve lost the funding.’ I said no, but I think they felt like maybe there was no trust.

Costello said he could understand why the change in funding might lead to this conclusion, “but that would be an unfair and unwarranted conclusion … if there is a project that you need funding for, the advice of administration is certainly open-minded and willing to listen and hope to participate.

Before the funding discussion, Yarabek reviewed the programs the commission had developed and the grants the commission had made to the city.

For example, the commission received several thousand dollars from the Hudson River Valley Greenway to organize its hike – a city-wide series of activities including sports, workshops and a variety of other activities, in part in response to the new coronavirus, which left people without their usual social and even professional activities. The grant will help cover the costs of developing a city map that would support these activities. This effort was also funded, in part, by the $ 15,000 the commission received last year, Yarabek said.

The Historic Preservation Commission is working on a historic designation for the Saugerties areas and has been well received, Yarabek said. He fears that new construction will change the nature of the city and that stronger guarantees for undeveloped land are needed. “Preserving and protecting the environment is as much a part of our history and tradition as anything else. “

Discussing various historic properties, Yarabek told the board that “we must partner with you to promote the benefits of historic preservation.”

Going through the list, he told city council that there are a lot of things worth preserving and that “we are looking for the resources to make things possible”.

The commission is looking for ways to work with other entities in the city, Yarabek said, adding that the commission is working with the American Legion to secure a historical landmark for the home of Vietnam War hero Roger Donlon.

Yarabek praised the Secretary of the Historic Preservation Commission, Jeremy Russell, saying he is more than a secretary; “He’s actually our administrator. It goes beyond the duties of a secretary.

Before opening the discussion on finances, Yarabek said the commission is still interested in expanding its reach and collaborating with other councils, and is interested in working on the city’s master plan.

One project that would be appropriate for the commission to be involved is the development of Bristol Beach in Malden, Councilor Leeanne Thornton suggested. There has been work in the park “to have an access road to the river,” she said. Part of the park’s vision was to display Malden’s history through signage near the old kiln on the site. Yarabek said the commission would be happy to be involved.

During the regular board meeting that followed, Schoonmaker, in his report as city council representative to the Historic Preservation Commission, described some of the commission’s activities that the commission discussed during its recent meeting. “They hope that their CRIS [cultural resource information system] building registration list, and they hope to have their [National Registry of Historic Places] project completed at the end of the month, ”he said. In addition to some of the aforementioned projects, he said the commission is considering possible collaboration with a group of local developers for the preservation of the Winston Farm, which John Mullen, Anthony Montano and Randy Richers recently purchased. At this point, Mullen said, the consortium has no immediate plans to develop the historic property.

Note: The print edition of this story incorrectly referred to the Saugerties Historical Society in the title and subtitle and once in the story. Every reference should have been made to the Saugerties Historic Preservation Commission; the historical society is a separate organization.

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