The company building two wind farms in Cohocton will contribute $50,000 for restoration work at Memorial Town Hall in Naples.
The Town Board voted unanimously last week to accept the cash; otherwise, it would go back to Cohocton for historic preservation projects there.
The $50,000 is part of $200,000 UPC Wind agreed to set aside to compensate for the effect modern wind towers would have on the historic character of the area. Naples qualified for a share because one of the Cohocton turbines is visible when driving south through Naples on Main Street.
Priscilla Crawford, president of the Naples Historical Society, said the group can now get the ball rolling to have UPC release the funds.
“There was some reluctance – not from the town but from the general public – on whether we should accept the money since some are so for the wind farms and some are so against,” she said.
Last summer, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation asked the society to quickly draft a list of local historical sites that could benefit from the cash, known as “mitigation” funds because they mitigate – or reduce – what may be regarded as the negative effect of windmills. Memorial Town Hall was at the head of the list.
The state agreed that the site, designed and built by Naples residents out of local materials, was deserving of funds.
“The building is very special,” Crawford said. “It’s one of only two in New York state erected as a memorial to the Civil War as a building rather than a statue or a plaque.”
The mitigation funds are now targeted for use in a feasibility study to determine what needs to be done to make the Memorial Town Hall viable for use by the public and town government, and the cost for such a project.
Renovation of the building would be a major undertaking, requiring updating of the interior space and utilities as well as providing access for the handicapped – most likely by installing an elevator – while still keeping the historic integrity of the building and preserving period details.
Town Supervisor Frank Duserick said the funds would not be enough to complete renovations of the building, but the study will be the first step in determining whether the town should pursue using the building for town government or put it to use as a community center. Grants may be available to help refurbish the historic site once a renovation plan has been outlined.
Crawford said the building has been used in the past for presentations and summer recreation programs, and an existing stage could be put to use if the building is eventually used as a community center.
“There are limitless possibilities for its use,” she said. “We need someone to come in and tell us exactly what it’s going to cost.”
By Emily McFaul, correspondent
25 April 2008
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding