His­toric Preser­va­tion: Ask­ing the Can­di­dates

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - Sa­man­tha Bosshart

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. >> Our city is for­tu­nate to have such a di­verse, ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of his­toric re­sources that make our com­mu­nity spe­cial, many of which have been high­lighted over the years in these ar­ti­cles. Our his­toric down­town and neigh­bor­hoods are the des­ti­na­tions they are to­day be­cause of the vi­sion, com­mit­ment, ef­fort, in­vest­ment, and over­sight of many over decades. How­ever, this is not some­thing we can take for granted as we look to the fu­ture. Pre­serv­ing our city’s spe­cial char­ac­ter will con­tinue to take vi­sion, com­mit­ment, ef­fort, in­vest­ment, and over­sight by city of­fi­cials and res­i­dents.

With the elec­tion on Nov. 5, the Foun­da­tion thought it would be help­ful to vot­ers to know how the can­di­dates view his­toric preser­va­tion. The con­sen­sus among all the can­di­dates is that his­toric preser­va­tion plays an im­por­tant role in main­tain­ing the pros­per­ity of our city. In to­tal six ques­tions were asked, but due to space lim­i­ta­tions not every ques­tion can be fea­tured in this ar­ti­cle.

Please note that as a not-for-profit 501(c)3, the Foun­da­tion can­not en­dorse any­one for elected of­fice. Every City Coun­cil can­di­date was con­tacted. County Su­per­vi­sors were not asked to par­tic­i­pate. Be­low are the ver­ba­tim an­swers that were re­ceived from can­di­dates. ••• The city has build­ings that de­tract from their neigh­bor­hoods be­cause they are not be­ing prop­erly main­tained by their own­ers. Over the last decade more than 10 his­toric build­ings that were va­cant and/or in poor con­di­tion have been lost to de­mo­li­tion. What mea­sures do you think the city should take to ad­dress this sit­u­a­tion?

Meg Kelly, May­oral Can­di­date:

“Pos­ses­sion of an his­toric build­ing car­ries both a dis­tinctly valu­able and a (some­times costly) sub­stan­tial stew­ard­ship. It is some­thing that the prop­erty owner proactivel­y chooses and ben­e­fits from upon pur­chase. I be­lieve that this re­spon­si­bil­ity should be clearly trans­mit­ted to po­ten­tial own­ers, and just as clearly en­forced as well as sup­ported.”

Tim Holmes, May­oral Can­di­date

“Iden­ti­fy­ing true his­toric value is a re­al­is­tic ap­proach to suc­cess in this as­pect of preser­va­tion. The pres­ence of an owner or oc­cu­pant will­ing to pre­serve the build­ing is nec­es­sary. Cost can be a fac­tor when the prop­erty is sus­tained for in­come pro­duc­tion.

“Ed­u­ca­tion for prospec­tive own­ers and oc­cu­pants can be en­cour­aged by in­form­ing of ex­ist­ing tax in­cen­tives and restora­tion sup­port from a va­ri­ety of sources. Or­ga­ni­za­tions such as the Preser­va­tion Foun­da­tion can pro­vide an in­valu­able role in gaug­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of prop­er­ties to the city’s his­toric streetscap­e.”

Michele Madi­gan, Com­mis­sioner of Fi­nance Can­di­date

“Un­sightly and de­te­ri­o­rat­ing prop­erty is not pleas­ant for any neigh­bor or neigh­bor­hood re­gard­less of lo­ca­tion. I would ask our build­ing, plan­ning, zon­ing and code depart­ment to come up with tan­gi­ble so­lu­tions that can be en­forced to en­sure prop­er­ties are not left va­cant and are well main­tained. We have a database now of va­cant prop­er­ties. Re­ports should be shared with the City Coun­cil that in­cludes a sta­tus on these va­cant prop­er­ties.

“I be­lieve there are op­por­tu­ni­ties for the city to part­ner with the SSPF to as­sist through fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives to re­ha­bil­i­tate de­te­ri­o­rat­ing his­toric struc­tures. Sim­i­lar to how the city has sup­ported Univer­sal Preser­va­tion Hall and Af­ford­able Hous­ing ini­tia­tives.”

Patty Mor­ri­son, Com­mis­sioner of Fi­nance Can­di­date

“As the next Com­mis­sioner of Fi­nance, my first fo­cus will be to have these prob­lem prop­er­ties iden­ti­fied and reeval­u­ated as to neigh­bor­hood safety con­cerns, as well as the detri­men­tal and neg­a­tive eco­nomic im­pacts to the neigh­bor­hood. Own­ers of these prob­lem prop­er­ties should be en­cour

aged to work with the City in bring­ing these prop­er­ties up to a min­i­mum stan­dard of ex­te­rior main­te­nance and care or face fines for their neg­li­gence.

“All such prob­lem prop­er­ties should be pay­ing their full and fair share of prop­erty taxes in-spite of their re­fusal to main­tain an oth­er­wise prob­lem prop­erty. Ad­di­tion­ally, all cur­rent code en­force­ment should be strictly ap­plied. And cer­tainly, any of these prop­er­ties with over­due taxes should face an In Rem pro­ceed­ing in-order for the City to take con­trol of the prop­erty.”

Robin Dal­ton, Com­mis­sioner of Pub­lic Safety Can­di­date:

“I think every ef­fort needs to be made to en­sure prop­er­ties are in com­pli­ance with Code En­force­ment and main­tained at a sat­is­fac­tory level. Non-com­pli­ance should be han­dled in a timely and con­sis­tent man­ner.”

Ken­dall Hicks, Com­mis­sioner of Pub­lic Safety Can­di­date:

“The city has build­ings that de­tract from their neigh­bor­hoods be­cause they are not be­ing prop­erly main­tained by their own­ers. Over the last decade more than 10 his­toric build­ings that were va­cant and/or in poor con­di­tion have been lost to de­mo­li­tion. What mea­sures do you think the city should take to ad­dress this sit­u­a­tion?

“This un­for­tu­nate is­sue could re­flect many chal­lenges, in­clud­ing a de­cline in in­come, per­sonal life events and con­flicts, as well as those seek­ing profit and/or in­vest­ment gains. That said, my ini­tial thoughts on this are: re­view the City Com­pre­hen­sive Plan to en­sure that the prop­erty and its use fit the neigh­bor­hoods and the com­mu­nity; ex­plore the use of pos­si­ble grants & co-fund­ing to help with up­grades, if and when ap­pro­pri­ate; and, en­cour­age and de­velop stronger com­mu­nity re­la­tions that may pro­mote neigh­bor­hood co­he­sive­ness, co­op­er­a­tion, and pride.”

Skip Scirocco, Com­mis­sioner of Pub­lic Works Can­di­date:

“Code en­force­ment needs to fo­cus on proactivel­y work­ing with prop­erty own­ers to pre­vent de­mo­li­tion by ne­glect sit­u­a­tions. There are new city or­di­nances re­quir­ing that own­ers main­tain their prop­er­ties and Code has been work­ing to pre­vent zom­bie prop­er­ties. If own­ers are en­gaged and re­quired to main­tain these prop­er­ties, hope­fully their next best op­tion will be re­sale and new own­ers can in­vest in restor­ing his­toric prop­er­ties from dis­re­pair.”

Dil­lon Mo­ran, Com­mis­sioner of Pub­lic Works Can­di­date:

“I be­lieve we need to be more ag­gres­sive to­ward delin­quent prop­erty own­ers, par­tic­u­larly those who are ig­nor­ing his­toric struc­tures. Par­tic­u­lar if the build­ing’s own­er­ship has re­verted to a fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion, that in­sti­tu­tion should not be al­lowed to ne­glect the prop­erty to the point that it be­comes a Zom­bie prop­erty. I be­lieve it to be in the city’s and cit­i­zen’s best in­ter­est to take the prop­erty through the le­gal routes avail­able. If new laws are needed to fa­cil­i­tate this, we must con­sider these and bring them for­ward for a vote.” ••• There are sev­eral his­toric build­ings within our city that are in dis­re­pair. Is there a spe­cific build­ing you want to see pre­served?

Meg Kelly, May­oral Can­di­date:

“There is not a sin­gle his­toric build­ing within our City that I would not like to see pre­served. How­ever, I re­al­ize that “pri­or­ity” is a key word in the lan­guage of every mis­sion, and I sus­pect “preser­va­tion” is no ex­cep­tion. To that ex­tent, I would leave it to the ex­perts to com­plete this sig­nif­i­cance/re­sources anal­y­sis in mak­ing this dif­fi­cult anal­y­sis.”

Tim Holmes, May­oral Can­di­date:

“The Brack­ett cot­tages on Ex­cel­sior Av­enue.”

Michele Madi­gan, Com­mis­sioner of Fi­nance Can­di­date

“There are 2 build­ings on Clin­ton Street be­tween Al­ger and Van Dam – they look like twin build­ings and I be­lieve are at­tached or di­rectly next to each other. They would be sim­ply adorable if they were to be re­stored and would do much to im­prove the street scape on Clin­ton Street not to men­tion home val­ues through­out this area of the city.”

Patty Mor­ri­son, Com­mis­sioner of Fi­nance Can­di­date

“For quite some time I have been se­cretly ad­mir­ing the prop­erty and out­build­ings at 166 Ex­cel­sior Ave with the con­sid­er­a­tion of po­ten­tially pur­chas­ing to ren­o­vate and re­store. In my hum­ble opin­ion this home which falls out­side the his­toric district is a gem and our com­mu­nity would be well served to pre­serve it.”

Robin Dal­ton, Com­mis­sioner of Pub­lic Safety Can­di­date

“I would love to see the prop­er­ties re­stored that have lan­guished on Phila Street. It is such a beau­ti­ful and unique block in the city and ev­ery­one would ben­e­fit from its preser­va­tion.”

Ken­dall Hicks, Com­mis­sioner of Pub­lic Safety Can­di­date

“Again, the Fred­er­ick Allen Lodge, 69 Beek­man Street. This build­ing is in dire need of re­pair. Once re­paired, the Lodge will be able to ex­pand their com­mu­nity sup­port, in­clud­ing youth pro­grams, gen­er­at­ing more funds for their col­lege schol­ar­ships, sup­port­ing ini­tia­tives of SOS, feed­ing the home­less, feed­ing our food-in­se­cure school chil­dren, … and the list goes on.”

Skip Scirocco, Com­mis­sioner of Pub­lic Works Can­di­date

“There are a cou­ple houses on Phila Street I would like to see re­stored, if they have not been in­vested into al­ready. It was great to see in­vest­ment into the restora­tion of Univer­sal

Preser­va­tion Hall. In gen­eral, with good ad­vo­cacy I think there has been a fair amount of in­vest­ment into pre­serv­ing his­toric build­ings in the city in the last few years.

“A list of his­toric prop­er­ties in var­i­ous states of dis­re­pair should be shared with the coun­cil and code en­force­ment so ev­ery­one has up front aware­ness of these locations.”

Dil­lon Mo­ran, Com­mis­sioner of Pub­lic Works Can­di­date

“It may be too late, but there are two “Zom­bie” prop­er­ties on lower Phila Street that should have been taken in long ago. These prop­er­ties de­crease the value of sur­round­ing homes, present clear safety haz­ards and do not pro­vide rev­enue to the city at a level they would if re­stored and lived in. Both these are per­fect ex­am­ples of the need to pre­serve his­toric build­ings be­fore they reach a point of dis­re­pair.” ••• Sev­eral other ques­tions were asked, in­clud­ing: What is your fa­vorite his­toric build­ing in our city and why? What role do you think his­toric preser­va­tion plays in main­tain­ing the pros­per­ity of our city and please ex­plain. What is your so­lu­tion to pre­vent the con­tin­ued dis­re­pair and po­ten­tial loss of im­por­tant his­toric ac­ces­sory struc­tures? Do you have con­cerns about the loss of his­toric build­ings and/or the de­sign, mass and scale of in­fill de­vel­op­ment? If you do, what steps should the city take to pro­tect his­toric build­ings that are not cur­rently pro­tected and to im­prove the de­sign of new con­struc­tion? The an­swers to these ques­tions are posted on the Foun­da­tion’s web­site www.sarato­gap­reser­va­tion.org.

The Saratoga Springs Preser­va­tion Foun­da­tion be­lieves that pre­serv­ing our unique his­toric down­town and neigh­bor­hoods is es­sen­tial to at­tract­ing new res­i­dents, vis­i­tors, and busi­nesses to our com­mu­nity, di­rectly con­tribut­ing to the over­all high qual­ity of life and eco­nomic suc­cess of Saratoga Springs. Hope you find this in­for­ma­tion help­ful when you vote.

Founded in 1977, the Saratoga Springs Preser­va­tion Foun­da­tion is a pri­vate, not-for-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that pro­motes preser­va­tion and en­hance­ment of the ar­chi­tec­tural, cul­tural and land­scaped her­itage of Saratoga Springs. To learn more and to sup­port the Foun­da­tion’s ef­forts, please visit www.sarato­gap­reser­va­tion.org.

IM­AGE PRO­VIDED

Each can­di­date was asked what their fa­vorite build­ing was in the city. More than one can­di­date found it dif­fi­cult to pick only one fa­vorite build­ing - Meg Kelly, Michele Madi­gan, and Robin Dal­ton. How­ever, in their an­swers they men­tioned – Adiron­dack Trust Com­pany; the for­mer Com­mu­nity Theater, 519 Broad­way, which is now Roohan Re­alty; and City Hall. Tim Holmes picked the Grand­stand and Club­house at the Saratoga Race Course. Patty Mor­ri­son and Dil­lon Mo­ran both picked the Batcheller Man­sion Inn, 20 Cir­cu­lar Street. Ken­dall Hicks chose Fred­er­ick Allen Lodge, 69 Beek­man Street.

PHOTO PRO­VIDED

Both Tim Holmes and Patty Mor­ri­son want to see the 1872 Smi­ley-Bracket Cot­tage and ac­ces­sory struc­tures at 166 Ex­cel­sior Av­enue pre­served.

PHOTO PRO­VIDED

Michele Madi­gan would like to see the small ver­nac­u­lar cot­tages on Clin­ton Street pre­served.

PHOTO PRO­VIDED

Ken­dall Hicks chose the Fred­er­ick Allen Lodge as the build­ing he would like to see pre­served.

PHOTO PRO­VIDED

The houses at 65 and 69 Phila Street were se­lected by Robin Dal­ton, Skip Scirocco, and Dil­lon Mo­ran as the his­toric build­ings they wished to see pre­served.

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