Tag Archives: OPRHP

Strengthening NY’s Historical Enterprise

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Anyone who follows this website, New York History: Historical News and Views From The Empire State, knows the close to astonishing amount of historical activity going on in our state. New York’s history, I believe, has more variety, interest, and potential for us to draw insights today, than the history of any other state. We have hundreds of historical programs and officially designated local historians. But we also know that the state of the historical enterprise is not as strong as it ought to be. Continue reading

39 Sites Recommended for State, National Registers

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The New York State Board for Historic Preservation recommended the addition of 39 properties to the State and National Registers of Historic Places, including the nation’s first fish hatchery, the neighborhood that grew up near the Brooklyn Naval Yard, and a roadside souvenir stand modeled after a tepee.

Listing these properties on the State and National Registers can assist their owners in revitalizing the structures, making them eligible for various public preservation programs and services, such as matching state grants and state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits.

The State and National Registers are the official lists of buildings, structures, districts, landscapes, objects and sites significant in the history, architecture, archeology and culture of New York State and the nation. There are 90,000 historic buildings, structures and sites throughout the state listed on the National Register of Historic Places, individually or as components of historic districts. Property owners, municipalities and organizations from communities throughout the state sponsored the nominations.

Once the recommendations are approved by the state historic preservation officer, the properties are listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places and then nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, where they are reviewed and, once approved, entered on the National Register.


Albany County

Potter Hollow District #19 School, Potter Hollow – constructed in 1853 in response to the educational reform movements of the mid-nineteenth century, the rural vernacular one-room schoolhouse retains an exceptionally high degree of architectural integrity.

University Club, Albany – the front portion of the Colonial Revival structure, designed by prominent Albany architect Robert Fuller, was built in 1924-25 for the club established earlier in the century to “promote social discourse among its members and to cultivate and maintain university spirit in Albany.”

Bronx County

Dollar Savings Bank, Bronx – today the Bronx Temple Seventh Day Adventist Church, the 1919 bank is a distinguished example of Classical Revival design that reflects the commercial history of one of the most important banking institutions in the Bronx.

Broome County

Harlow E. Bundy House, Binghamton – the Queen Anne-style home was built in 1893 by Harlow Bundy, a founder of the Bundy Manufacturing Company, a leading producer of mechanical time clocks, which was the precursor of IBM.

Chemung County

Riverside Cemetery, Lowman – one of the earliest surviving cemeteries in Chemung County, it is the final resting place of many of the area’s earliest settlers, including several veterans of the American Revolution and the War of 1812, most of whose homes and farms have vanished.

Clinton County
Heyworth-Mason Industrial Building, Peru – the 1836 structure is an example of an early stone industrial building that housed A. Mason and Sons Lumber Company, a firm that operated for 90 years and greatly impacted the building industry in Clinton and Essex Counties.

Cortland County

William J. Greenman House, Cortland – the 1896 Queen Anne-style house is based on a design of George Franklin Barber, an early and successful proponent of “house by mail” plans, for local manufacturer William Greenman.

Delaware County

Schoolhouse No. 5, Hamden – a mid-19th century rural one-room schoolhouse built in the winter of 1857-1858, sometimes known as Upper Dunk Hill School, which includes a schoolyard defined by a stone wall and mature trees planted by students to mark Arbor Day.

Erie County

Buffalo Seminary, Buffalo – an excellent example of the Collegiate Gothic-style, the 1909 building houses a significant educational institution which has served the Buffalo community for over 150 years and has produced numerous graduates who have made significant contributions to Buffalo and the nation.

University Park Historic District, Buffalo – a remarkably intact example of an early-20th century planned residential subdivision, reflecting the importance of the streetcar and the rise of automobile use in determining the city’s expansion.

Twentieth Century Club, Buffalo – built in 1896, the elegant Classical Revival clubhouse reflects the growth of the national women’s club movement and the increased influence of women generally in American life.

Engine House #2 and Hook & Ladder #9, Buffalo – originally constructed in 1875 to serve the needs of the rapidly growing city and its Allentown neighborhood, the Second Empire-style firehouse was expanded in 1896 to provide additional space for the Hook & Ladder #9.

Essex County

Crandall Marine Railway, Ticonderoga – the rare and remarkably intact 1927 railway dry dock facility was, and still is, used by the Lake George Steamboat Company to haul its excursion boats in and out of Lake George for maintenance and storage.

Fulton County

Hotel Broadalbin, Broadalbin – originally built in 1854 as a specialty store selling gloves manufactured at the local Northrup & Richards glove factory, it was greatly enlarged in 1881 for use as a hotel for the growing numbers of tourists visiting the Adirondacks.

Greene County

Oak Hill Cemetery, Oak Hill – the small, 5.6-acre cemetery originated as the burial place of early settlers Lucas and Deborah DeWitt on their family farm in the early 1820s, and evolved quickly into a community cemetery for residents of the hamlet.

Herkimer County

Frankfort Hill District #10 School, Frankfort Hill – constructed in 1846, the vernacular building retains a high degree of architectural integrity and remarkably served as an active public school for 110 years until 1956.

Kings County

Wallabout Historic District, Brooklyn – primarily residential buildings built between 1830 and 1930 – and especially rich in pre-Civil War wood houses – the district developed as Brooklyn’s residential development moved eastward and laborers came to work at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Lewis County

Stoddard-O’Connor House, Lowville – built in 1898, the Queen Anne/Colonial Revival-inspired home is adjacent to the commercial heart of Lowville, which was experiencing ample growth during the turn of the last century.

Mary Lyon Fisher Memorial Chapel, Lyonsdale – the late Gothic Revival masonry chapel in Wildwood Cemetery was built in 1921 by the children of Mary Lyon Fisher in honor of their mother, and is an important reminder of the philanthropy of the Lyon family, a preeminent family of the region.

Livingston County

Caledonia Fish Hatchery, Caledonia – the property is nationally historically significant for its association with Seth Green, who established the first fish hatchery in the western hemisphere in 1864, creating what has been acclaimed nationally and internationally as the world’s largest and most productive fish plant in continuous use.

Monroe County
Brockport Central Rural High School, Brockport – completed in 1934, today’s A.D. Oliver School is notable for its distinctive English Tudor Revival design, as well as its interior details, especially the auditorium’s stained-glass windows, which illustrate American historic figures.

Oatka Cemetery, Oak Hill – a late 19th century rural cemetery, which was attached to and merged with an earlier burying ground, known as Scottsville Cemetery, and contains markers of the area’s citizens from the early 19th century to the present.

Montgomery County

Van Wie Farmstead, (Valley View Farm) McKinley – the 1873 farmhouse based on Italianate-inspired pattern book architecture and associated farm buildings and acreage tell the story of changes in Mohawk Valley agricultural production, from the earliest 18th century wheat farmers to mechanized dairy production in the mid-20th century.

Nassau County
The Stephen Harding House and Studio, Sea Cliff – built in 1878 by photographer Stephen Harding as one of the original homes during the period when Methodist Camp Meetings were held in Sea Cliff.

Niagara County

Hazard H. Sheldon House, Niagara Falls – the 1857 ‘Italian Villa’ was the home Hazard H. Sheldon, a lawyer who played an important role in the civic affairs of the then-burgeoning Village of Niagara Falls.

Allan Herchell Carousel Factory, North Tonawanda – the existing State and National Register listing is expanded to include 39 Geneva Street, which served as the main office for the Allan Herschell Company from 1915 until 1945, when owner John Wendler developed the Kiddieland amusement park concept

Onondaga County
Huntley Apartments, Syracuse – constructed in 1928, and originally known as the Asaranaba, it reflects a trend in the city that saw the acceptance of apartment living on the part of the middle class in a city previously dominated by the single-family or two-family house.

Otsego County

Gilbertsville Water Works, Gilbertsville – in response to a series of large fires, the village of Gilbertsville was incorporated in 1896 with the specific purpose of establishing the water supply system, which it enlarged in 1914-18, and continues in use today.

The Tepee, Cherry Valley – an example of popular roadside architecture, the Tepee was built in 1954 by Ken and Iris Gurney, natives of Nebraska, where tepees were especially popular, who moved to upstate New York and decided to take advantage of growing automobile traffic along Route 20 to open a souvenir stand.

Rensselaer County

Dickinson Hill Fire Tower, Grafton – erected in 1924 by the New York State Conservation Commission in what is now Grafton Lakes State Park, it was one of more than 100 built after 1908 to identify fires and put them out before causing extensive loss of forest, open land, buildings, and wildlife.

Rockland County

Rockland Road Bridge Historic District, Piermont – the district includes a masonry arch bridge erected in 1874 to span the Sparkill Creek along with several nearby properties portraying various periods in the hamlet’s development.

Gurnee-Sherwood House, Wesley Hills – built in the 1790s and subsequently enlarged around 1830 during its ownership by Reverend James Sherwood, a Methodist clergyman who played a central role in the development of the area.Christ Church, Sparkill – built in 1864, the church remains a largely intact and noteworthy example of Gothic Revival-style religious design.

St. Lawrence County

Young Memorial Church, Brier Hill – built 1907-1908, the church is an intact example of the Shingle style, featuring a two-story square Gothic bell tower and decorative windows of opaque glass and stained glass medallions and portraits made by a local artisan.

Saratoga County

Smith’s Grain and Feed Store, Elnora – constructed in 1892, the store served the local farm community for generations by selling feed, grain, coal, fertilizers and other goods that were transported to the store by the railroad, which unloaded at the store’s own siding.

Steuben County

Cottages at Central Point, Hammondsport – built in the 1880s, the four cottages are a remarkably intact collection of picturesque seasonal vacation houses in the Finger Lakes, reflecting the beginnings of the residential development patterns that have come to dominate the region.

Sullivan County

Forestburgh Town Hall, Forestburgh – unaltered since its construction in 1927, the structure’s specifications exactly match the original town hall that burned to the ground the year before.

Warren County

Fort George, Lake George – archaeological investigations at the French and Indian War site have provided rare insights into New York’s colonial wars and it reflects early and successful public initiatives in land conservation and commemoration.

Wyoming County

Perry Downtown Historic District, Perry – the village district of commercial, civic and mixed use buildings reflects the growth and development of Perry as a regional commercial hub and the center of a booming textile industry from roughly 1830 to 1930.

Council of Parks Releases Report, 2011 Priorities

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The 2010 State Council of Parks Annual Report has been released. The Council issues a report annually pursuant to Article 5.09 of the Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Law. The report provides a summary of regional activities and outlines the Council’s 2011 priorities.

The State Council of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation consists of the Commissioner of State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation, Chairs of the eleven Regional Parks Commissions (including a representative of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission), and Chair of the State Board of Historic Preservation. The Regional Commissions are charged with acting as a central advisory body on all matters affecting parks, recreation and historic preservation within their respective regions, with particular focus on the operations of the State Parks and Historic Sites.

The priorities for 2011 outlined in the report are:

1. Park Operations Funding – Keep Our Parks Open!
New York State must provide adequate funding to keep our 213 state parks open to the public and to provide safe, clean and affordable recreational and educational experiences to the 57 million people that visit our facilities each year.

2. State Parks Capital Budget – Reinstitute the $100 Million Commitment.
New York State must reinstitute the State Parks Capital Initiative to provide $100 million annually in capital funding to begin to address the $1.1 billion backlog of park rehabilitation and health & safety needs in our state parks and historic sites.

3. Dedicated Funding Mechanism.
New York State should establish a new dedicated funding source to provide sustainable funding for the state park system.

4. Public-Private Partnerships.
The State Council and Regional Commissions will continue to help establish new “Friends Groups” – 16 new organizations have been started since 2007 – and to help strengthen existing Friends Groups to increase private support for state parks and historic sites. The State Council of Parks also continues to encourage partnerships with for-profit, non-profit and governmental entities for a wide range
of support, from direct monetary contributions and formal concession agreements to operations and programming. A list of such active and recent partnerships appears as an appendix to the report.

5. Private Fundraising Campaign.
During 2011 the State Council will continue to pursue private funding from individuals, corporations, and foundations – building upon the $5.6 million in private support that has been raised since 2009 to support the State Park System.

The full report can be viewed and downloaded as a pdf here: 2010 Annual Report.

Governor Nominates Rose Harvey, OPRHP Head

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the nomination of Rose H. Harvey as commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP). OPRHP administers 178 parks and 35 state historic sites and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).

If confirmed by the state senate, Harvey would replace Acting Commissioner Andy Beers who took over after the resignation of Carol Ash in October 2010.

Currently, Harvey is a senior fellow at the Jonathan Rose Companies, where she acts as an advisor and researcher on parks and open space issues, and launched a non-profit organization to fund, design and develop safe, well-managed parks in urban neighborhoods. She was also recently a McCluskey Fellow and Lecturer at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

For 27 years, Harvey held multiple leadership positions with The Trust for Public Land, most recently as Senior Vice President and National Director of Urban Programs. There, she oversaw all real estate acquisitions, urban park design and developments, managed the finances of a $20 million annual operating budget, and closed between $50 and $75 million worth of land and parks transactions each year across 8 states – a total of nearly $1 billion and more than a thousand new and enhanced parks, gardens and playgrounds in underserved neighborhoods in New York City, Newark, N.J. and Baltimore. She has also established large landscape woodlands and natural areas throughout New York State and the Mid-Atlantic region.

Harvey began her tenure in the parks and open space arena as the Assistant Director for Conservation Easement at the Maryland Environmental Trust, where she negotiated protections of private lands holding environmental significance.

Harvey received her B.A. from Colorado College in 1977 and M.E.S. at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in 1984. She currently serves on the Board of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the Yale Leadership Advisory Council. In the past she has served on many conservation organizations, including the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Hudson River Institute and Walsh Park Low Income Housing. In addition to multiple state and national awards for her environmental stewardship and advocacy for open space and parks, Ms. Harvey has written multiple articles and op/eds in numerous national media outlets and industry trade journals.

Lucy Rockefeller Waletzky, M.D., Chair of the New York State Council of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said, “Ms. Harvey has been key to many of the great additions to state parks of the past 20 years. I look forward to working with her to foster strong private-public partnerships that protect and enhance New York’s parks, open spaces and heritage. I am also deeply committed to working with Governor Cuomo’s administration in preserving our state’s recreational landscapes and natural resources.”

Kim Elliman, CEO of the Open Space Institute, said, “Rose brings an unparalleled passion for providing all New Yorkers with access to parks and open space. Throughout her 30 year career, she has built an incredible track record of creating and protecting parks, from vest-pocket parks in cities to landscape parks like Sterling Forest. She is singularly qualified for the job and I commend Governor Cuomo for his selection.”

Leslie Wright, New York State Director for The Trust for Public Land, said, “Governor Cuomo’s selection of Ms. Harvey as Commissioner for the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation shows that he is serious about maintaining open space and making it accessible to as many New Yorkers as possible. Ms. Harvey’s storied career in establishing parks, playgrounds and gardens in urban areas, combined with her ongoing advocacy for open space makes her the ideal candidate to lead this agency.”

Photo: Rose Harvey (Courtesy Geraldine R Dodge Foundation)

Rare Maps of the American Revolution in the North

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The 1776-1777 Northern Campaigns of the American War for Independence and Their Sequel: Contemporary Maps of Mainly German Origin by Thomas M. Barker and Paul R. Huey is the first, full-scale, presentation in atlas form of the two, abortive British-German invasions of New York – events crucial to understanding the rebel American victory in the War for Independence. The book includes 240 pages with 32 full-color illustrations.

The bulk of the maps are from the German archives. The material has previously been little used by researchers in the United States due to linguistic and handwriting barriers. The volume includes transcriptions, translations, and detailed textual analysis of the naval and land operations of 1776 and 1777. It is written from a novel military-historical perspective, namely, British, German, loyalist, French Canadian, and First American.

The attack of Benedict Arnold and Richard Montgomery on Québec City, the colonial assailants’ repulse and withdrawal to the Province of New York and the Hudson River corridor, prior actions in the adjacent St. Lawrence-Richelieu river region of Canada, the Battle of Valcour Island on Lake Champlain, the forts at Crown Point and Ticonderoga, and the Battles of Bennington and Saratoga all receive detailed attention. The last section of the atlas deals with the less known, final phase of combat, in which the Britons, Germans, refugee tories, Québec militia, and Amerindians kept the insurgents off balance by mounting numerous small-scale expeditions into New York.

The significance of the publication is highlighted by Russell Bellico, author of Sails and Steam in the Mountains: A Maritime History of Lake George and Lake Champlain. He writes that Barker’s and Huey’s tome is “a superb work of scholarship based on exhaustive research on both sides of the Atlantic.” J. Winthrop Aldrich, New York State Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation, states that the maps “are of significant help now as we continue to build our understanding of what happened in our war for independence, and why. This rediscovered treasure and the illuminating commentary and notes superbly advance that understanding.”

Dr. Thomas M. Barker is emeritus professor of history, University of Albany, State University of New York at Albany. He is the author of numerous books about European military history, especially the Habsburg monarchy, Spain, World War II as well as ethnic minority issues. Dr. Paul R. Huey is a well-known New York State historical archeologist and also has many publications to his credit. He is particularly knowledgeable about the locations of old forts, battlefields, colonial and nineteenth-century buildings, and/or their buried vestiges. He works at the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation Bureau of Historic Sites office on Peebles Island in Waterford, New York. The book is co-published with the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

New York State Historic Preservation Awards Announced for 2010

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The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has announced the recipients of the 2010 New York State Historic Preservation Awards. Established in 1980, the State Historic Preservation Awards are given each year to honor excellence in the protection and rejuvenation of New York’s historic and cultural resources.

“The Historic Preservation Awards honor the efforts and achievement of individuals, organizations and municipalities that make significant contributions to historic preservation objectives throughout New York State,” said Ruth Pierpont, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation. “The range of awards this year reflects the many ways that historic preservation serves as an important tool for economic development, creating affordable housing, and providing an effective approach to sustainable building design while preserving the unique character and heritage of our communities.”

The awards follow:


New York City’s Chinatown and Little Italy Historic District

Presented to: Two Bridges Neighborhood Council (Victor Papa, president and director) and architectural consultant Kerri Culhane, for a project that illuminates the common heritage and shared future of New York

New York City’s Chinatown and Little Italy Historic District was listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places in February 2010 as being nationally significant in the history of immigration. The project’s success was due to the inspired leadership of the sponsor, the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council; exemplary scholarship of their consultant – architectural historian Kerri Culhane; and the support of Chinese-American and Italian-American organizations. Key to the process was educating the public about the significance of two ethnic groups whose 150 years of interwoven immigrant experiences had been previously overlooked. This nomination has proven to be a catalyst for a planning process aimed at enhancing economic development opportunities while respecting the important history of these neighborhoods.


The Montour House, Village of Montour Falls, Schuyler County, 1850

For Outstanding Adaptive Use and Commitment to Community Revitalization

Presented to: Bruce Nelson, Nelson Development, Village of Montour Falls and Schuyler County Partners for Economic Development

Set in motion by a Restore New York grant and assistance from the Schuyler County Partners for Economic Development (SCOPED), the Village of Montour Falls hired developer Bruce Nelson to bring the 1850 Montour House back to life. Nelson, of Nelson Development in Vestal, worked closely with SHPO staff to determine the best approach to adapting the former hotel for apartments and commercial spaces while adhering to historic preservation standards. Over 20 years of neglect had caused severe water damage and other deterioration, and the village was in danger of losing the central landmark. A mason employed on the job for 18 months and a millwright who restored 118 historic wood windows were joined by other team members who restored and replaced decorative plaster elements. The project fulfilled the Village’s goals of attracting new and long-time residents as tenants, and helped inspired other local rehabilitation projects.


257 Lafayette Center (The Former Annunciation School), Buffalo, 1928

For Outstanding Adaptive Use and Commitment to Community Revitalization

Presented to: Karl Frizlen, The Frizlen Group Architects and Paul Johnson, Johnson and Sons Contractors

After having served as an integral part of the community for over 80 years, the school closed and the building stood vacant for several years. Karl Frizlen, of The Frizlen Group Architects, and Paul Johnson, of Johnson & Sons General Contractor, recognized that the well-designed school would be ideal for an adaptive, mixed-used development that would incorporate green building design and historic preservation. The partners attracted tenants for the commercial portion of the building before beginning the project, including a day-care center and several firms for the incubator offices. In converting former school rooms, the work exhibits a high degree of creativity in reusing historic elements in place, such as pivoting blackboards, or recycling materials for new uses in the building. The project is an outstanding example of how historic tax credits can be used for a mid-sized rehabilitation project. Having obtained LEED certification, the project demonstrates that historic preservation and sustainable design are mutually supportive approaches to development.


44 West 87th Street, New York City, 1910

For Outstanding Adaptive Use and Commitment to Community Revitalization

Presented to: The West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing, Inc. and Red Top Architects

In adapting the 1910 townhouse at 44 West 87th Street in New York City for senior and transitional housing and program services, the West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing, Inc. and Red Top Architects needed to upgrade the building to meet accessibility requirements; provide affordable rental units and smaller, transitional housing units; and also insert meeting and office space. Project partners worked through a highly collaborative process to solve design challenges. Preservation tax credits helped make the difference in the remarkable quality of workmanship and historic character preserved by the adaptive use project on a tight budget.


P. S. 124, High School of Telecommunication Arts & Technology, Brooklyn, 1917

For an Outstanding Rehabilitation Project and Commitment to Community Revitalization

Presented to: New York City School Construction Authority and STV Group, Inc.

In planning a new wing for the overcrowded school building, the School Construction Authority staff and STV Group architects had to design a structure that would fit on the limited land available, would be compatible with the materials, massing and scale of the existing building and that would also meet with the approval of both SHPO and the community. The end result included a well-designed new wing and restoration of the school’s original auditorium, portions of which had previously been converted to classroom space. In returning the auditorium to its former grandeur, the team recreated missing decorative elements and restored stained glass windows.


Dunderberg Creek Walls and NY Route 51 Stone Arch Bridge over Dunderberg Creek, Village of Gilbertsville, Otsego County

For an Outstanding Rehabilitation Project and Commitment to Community Revitalization

Presented to: Village of Gilbertsville and New York State Department of Transportation, Region 9

The historic Village of Gilbertsville’s picturesque setting was threatened in June 2006, when storm waters overflowed the Dunderberg Creek banks and came roaring through the village. The historic stone walls lining the creek were washed away, debris carried by the waters destroyed one of the piers supporting the historic Gilbert Building, and the NY Route 51 Bridge was damaged. Village officials, committed to preserving the historic character of the village, worked closely with the NYSDOT to coordinate repairs to the 1919 bridge and creek walls in a manner that retained the historic pattern of the stonework.


Anne H. Van Ingen, former director of the Architecture, Planning and Design and Capital Program of the New York State Council on the Arts.

Recently-retired as director of the Architecture, Planning and Design (APD) and Capital Aid Programs at the New York State Council on the Arts, Anne Van Ingen was recognized for her extraordinary leadership in and commitment and contributions to the field of historic preservation, both as a public servant and a private citizen.

For 27 years, she served as NYSCA’s representative on the New York State Board for Historic Preservation, reviewing and approving nominations to the State and National Registers for Historic Places. Her focus as APD director was on what quality planning and design work – including historic preservation – could do for arts organizations and the communities they serve. She is a founding director of the Deborah J. Norden Fund of the Architectural League, established in memory of a talented NYSCA colleague, the Lower Manhattan Emergency Preservation Fund, and is president of the St. Regis Foundation, a land trust in the Adirondacks.

More recently, she purchased a traditional “shotgun” house in New Orleans’ Hurricane Katrina-ravaged Ninth Ward and invited friends and family down to help undertake the extensive rehabilitation needed to turn the property into affordable housing.

Recognition for OPRHP Agency Best Practices in Historic Preservation

Taconic Regional Headquarters Adaptive Use Project

The Preservation awards program initiated a new component this year to recognize projects undertaken within the OPRHP agency that demonstrate best practices in historic preservation. Ruth Pierpont, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation explained, “by highlighting high-quality rehabilitation and restoration projects, we hope to encourage similar approaches throughout all state parks.” The project chosen this year was the adaptive use of the former Staatsburg School for the OPRHP Taconic Regional Headquarters.

The project was initiated with a gift from Dr. Lucy R. Waletsky, chair of the New York State Council of Parks, who stipulated that the project use sustainable, green building practices and become LEED certified. In order to retain the proportions of the 1930 school, the wide corridors were retained and glass walls were inserted in former classrooms to divide the work spaces and allow the distribution of natural light. On the exterior, instead of separating the accessible entrance from the main door, a “universally accessible” entry was created by redesigning the building site and locating the main entrance at the former rear of the building. This approach also avoided alterations to the stately, historic façade which was restored.

The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), which is part of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, helps communities identify, recognize, and preserve their historic resources, and incorporate them into local improvement and economic development activities. The SHPO administers several programs including the state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credit program, state historic preservation grants, the Certified Local Government program, and the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places, which are the official lists of properties significant in the history, architecture, and archeology of the state and nation.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 178 state parks and 35 historic sites.. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.nysparks.com.

Virtual Tours of State Parks, Sites, Now Online

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The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has partnered with Fisheye Virtual Tours to provide 360-degree views of scenic vistas, popular attractions, gathering spots and select interiors of nearly 50 parks and historic sites on its website, www.nysparks.com.

“Virtual tours are an innovative and user-friendly tool for both tourists and frequent park visitors to plan their next adventure,” said State Parks Acting Commissioner Andy Beers. “By showcasing New York’s incredible natural and cultural treasures, the virtual tours will help draw new visitors to popular, favorite spots and provide regular visitors with glimpses of features of the park system they’ve never visited before.”

The virtual tours include images of assorted campgrounds, trails, play areas, golf courses, boat launches, beaches and pools in the parks, as well as landscapes, architectural elements and collections in many of the state historic sites. Tours also feature interior and exterior images of the diverse types of lodging available at State Parks – from the many amenities of the Ironworkers Cabins at Taconic State Park’s Copake Falls to the rustic camping areas of Allegany State Park. Additional tours will be added in the coming weeks.

“We are very excited to be working with the state of New York on the first phase of our ‘Explore America’s Parks’ project. This partnership truly shows New York’s commitment to bringing exciting new features to their website and to show their global audience the stunning beauty of their parks and historic sites,” said Fisheye Virtual Tours president Michael Brennan.

The pilot program between Parks and Fisheye Virtual Tours began in 2009 and has expanded to include the unique photography of all 11 state park regions. The initiative is supported through sponsorships developed and administered by Fisheye Virtual Tours.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 178 state parks and 35 historic sites. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.nysparks.com. For information about Fisheye Virtual Tours, sponsorship and the Explore America’s Parks program, visit www.exploreamericasparks.org.

Carol Ash Leaves Office of Parks, Historic Preservation

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Considering I’m sharing a dais with Carol Ash next week, I can’t believe I missed this news, but better late than never I suppose.

Governor David A. Paterson announced on September 28th, that Carol Ash will resign her position as Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) effective October 13.

“Over the past four years Commissioner Ash has led her agency with dedication, integrity and professionalism,” Governor Paterson said. “Despite these extraordinarily challenging times, the Commissioner presided the over construction and opening of the remarkable Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park, a very successful U.S. Open Golf Championship at Bethpage State Park and initiated an effort to rebuild and restore the agency’s aging infrastructure.”

During Commissioner Ash’s term more than $200 million was invested in roadways, bathhouses, historic structures and electrical and plumbing systems. She promoted public-private partnerships and encouraged strong relationships with Friends Groups and non-for-profits. She also saw visitation rates climb, as more than 56 million people visited the State’s 178 parks and 35 historic sites in 2009.

Governor Paterson appointed Andy Beers to the position of Acting Commissioner. Mr. Beers has served as OPRHP Executive Deputy Commissioner since 2007. He has been responsible for the day-to-day operations of the agency, as well as overseeing the continuing efforts to revitalize the State parks system. Prior to serving as Executive Deputy Commissioner, Beers served as Deputy State Director at the Nature Conservancy. He received his B.A. from Colgate University and his M.S. from Cornell University.

Draft Statewide Trails Plan Available for Review

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State Parks has released a draft New York Statewide Trails Plan, which sets out to provide the policy direction for the planning, development and management of a statewide trail system.

A public hearing on the Draft Plan/Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement will be held Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 at 7:00 pm in the Gideon Putnam Room, Administration Building, Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs, NY. State Parks’ staff will make a brief presentation about the plan and receive public comments.

Plans are available for review on the agency’s website at as well as at OPRHP Regional Offices, DEC Regional Offices, and OPRHP, Agency Building 1, 17th Floor, Albany.

Pre-hearing webinars will be offered on Wednesday, October 13, 2010 from 7:00 – 8:00 pm and Thursday, October 14, 2010 from 1:00 – 2:00 pm. The webinars will include a presentation of the draft plan and offer an opportunity for questions and answers. People wishing to participate should email notification of interest to: StatewideTrailsPlan@oprhp.state.ny.us or call 518-474-5578. Instructions for access to the webinar will be emailed shortly before the webinar dates. Participation requires telephone and Internet access.

Written comments on the Draft Statewide Trails Plan will be accepted until November 1, 2010 and can be submitted to the agency contact below or emailed to StatewideTrailsPlan@oprhp.state.ny.us.

Agency Contact:

Nancy Stoner
Bureau of Resource and Facility Planning
NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation
Agency Building 1, 17th Floor
Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12238
518-474-7013 (Fax)

State Board Recommends to State, National Registers

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The New York State Board for Historic Preservation recommended that 24 properties be added to the State and National Registers of Historic Places, including the nationally significant Haviland Middle School in Hyde Park and the birthplace of an important American statesman, William H. Seward.

State and National Historic Register listing can assist property owners in revitalizing the structures, making them eligible for various public preservation programs and services, such as matching state grants and state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits. Listing will oblige state and federal government agencies whose projects would adversely impact the properties to consider other options. Private projects are not subject to state or federal review after a property is listed, and private property owners – or in historic districts, a majority of property owners – must consent for the listing to move forward.

The State and National Registers are the official lists of buildings, structures, districts, landscapes, objects and sites significant in the history, architecture, archeology and culture of New York State and the nation. There are approximately 90,000 historic buildings, structures and sites throughout the state listed on the National Register of Historic Places, individually or as components of historic districts. Property owners, municipalities and organizations from communities throughout the state sponsored the nominations.

Once the recommendations are approved by the state historic preservation officer, the properties are listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places and then nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, where they are reviewed and, once approved, entered on the National Register.


Dutchess County

Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, Hyde Park. – today the Haviland Middle School, the architecturally and historically significant Colonial Revival-style school shares direct associations with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who, along with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, dedicated the building at a public ceremony in October 1940, and made several subsequent appearances there.

Erie County

The Calumet, Buffalo – the 1906 commercial building is unique example of the use of glazed architectural terra cotta, decorated with running reeds, their leaves and flowers.

The Zink Block, Buffalo – the 1896 commercial building with Italian Renaissance styling is a particularly rare resource on the once thriving Connecticut Street commercial corridor, which before the mid-century stood as a thriving commercial anchor for the neighborhood.

Kensington Gardens Apartment Complex, Buffalo – the apartment complex built for the influx of workers to the city’s World War II industries reflects designs of the Garden City movement and was one of the earliest projects supported by the Federal Housing Administration.

Nassau County

Glen Cove Post Office, Glen Cove – the distinctive Craftsman/Tudor-style structure was built in 1905 to serve the community’s fast-growing population.

Johns S. Phipps Estate, Old Westbury – the National Register of Historic Places listing from 1976 will be amended to include a large part of the property known as Orchard Hill, which was part of the original estate, and the more information on the significance of the estate’s landscaping and architecture.

Onondaga County

John G. Ayling House, Syracuse – the 1915 Tudor Revival home was designed by noted Syracuse architect Ward Wellington Ward.

Indian Castle Village Site, Manlius and Carley Onondaga Village Site, Pompey – the two sites are significant in the history of the Onondaga Nation and the regional development of the Iroquois Confederation and have yielded significant archaeological insight into domestic life in the seventeenth century.

Orange County

John G. Beakes House, Middletown – built around 1884, the Queen Anne-style home is an architecturally significant example of fashionable middle class housing erected at a time when the city’s West Main Street was being developed as a desirable residential quarter.

Grace Episcopal Church, Middletown – a prominent and recognizable landmark built in 1846 and substantially modified in the late 1860s, Grace Episcopal Church’s soaring spire and highly picturesque masonry work mark it as a significant example of 19th century Gothic Revival-style religious architecture.

Mortimer Mapes House/William H. Seward Birthplace, Florida – the property includes an 1887 Queen Anne-style home built for a prominent local citizen as well as the 1797 home – later converted into a carriage house – where New York Governor, U.S. Senator and U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward was born.

Queens County

Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church, Forest Hills – the church and parish hall complex built in stages between 1924 and 1950 is an outstanding example of early-20 century Collegiate Gothic architecture.

Richmond County

Louis A. and Laura Stim House/Casa Belvedere, Staten Island – the 1908 Renaissance mansion, a prominent reminder of the 19th and early 20th-century development of Grymes Hill as a fashionable enclave of great estates and overlooking New York Harbor, is one of the few houses of its kind surviving on Staten Island.

Saratoga County

Nathan Garnsey House, Rexford – built in 1791 and remaining in the same family for generations, the home is a virtually untouched gem of Federal architecture owned by one of Clifton Park’s important first families

Jonesville Store, Jonesville – originally built about 1845 or 1850, and expanded in 1900, the Main Street building has been a community gathering spot since throughout its history.

Mohawk Valley Grange Hall, Clifton Park – the 1896 single-story wood frame building used as a gathering place for the agricultural community retains its rural setting, despite the town’s increasing suburbanization.

Abraham Best House, Vischer Ferry – built around 1815, the sophisticated brick federal farmhouse is a rare survivor from the agricultural era of Clifton Park.

Cyrus Rexford House, Rexford – the Stick-style Victorian was built in 1883 by Cyrus Rexford, who owned a canal store in the hamlet named for his father, and served as Clifton Park town supervisor and justice of the peace.

Suffolk County

Winganhauppauge, Islip – the 1941 French Provincial style home was built for Dr. Richard Pasternack, a research scientist whose work allowed Pfizer, his employer, to become the largest producer and distributor of pharmaceuticals in the world in the twentieth century.

The Edwards Homestead, Sayville – believed to be the oldest extant residence in Sayville with a portion dating to 1785, the home is an excellent surviving example of an early Long Island farmstead that began as a smaller New England Colonial but expanded over time by the family of early colonial settlers.

Sullivan County

Greenville Preparative Meeting House/Catskill Meeting House, Grahamsville – built in 1838-39 by Quakers from New England and the Hudson Valley, the simple and symmetrical building remains virtually unchanged since its original construction, lacking central heat, electricity, and indoor plumbing.

Washington County

L.C. Simonds Adirondack Cabin, Clemons – the 1910 cabin built by a Whitehall manufacturer features the hallmarks of the so-called Adirondack style, popularized in the late 19th century, including saddle-notched spruce log walls, rustic rough hewn masonry chimney, wraparound porch, and interior rustic detailing.

Westchester County

Hartsdale Railroad Station, Hartsdale – built in 1914 to replace and earlier, smaller wood frame structure, the Tudor Revival-style structure has a pivotal role in the connecting Hartsdale to New York City and attracting homeowners to the community.

Finger Lakes Museum Annouces Agreement

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Finger Lakes Museum Board President John Adamski and Finger Lakes State Parks Regional Director Tim Joseph have announced that a ceremony has been scheduled to sign a Letter of Intent to start the process that will enable the Finger Lakes Museum to build its campus in Keuka Lake State Park. A joint Memorandum of Understanding listing the commitments of five other Keuka Lake State Park site sponsors, which were presented in the Site Sponsors’ Proposal last December, will also be signed at the same event. Those members include Yates County, the Town of Jerusalem, Finger Lakes Economic Development Center, Keuka College and the Finger Lakes Visitors Association. A separate agreement with the Yates County Chamber of Commerce will be signed in a few more weeks.

The affair will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, September 17 th at the lakeside
pavilion in Keuka Lake State Park and members of the News Media and the public
are invited to attend this unprecedented event.

The Finger Lakes Museum is an initiative to create a worldclass educational institution to showcase the cultural heritage and ecological evolution of the 9,000
squaremile Finger Lakes Region, since the last glacial recession began some 12,000 years ago. Last April, Keuka Lake State Park was selected as the preferred location to build the project after 19 sites were submitted for evaluation by 8 Finger Lakes counties and the City of Geneva in 2009.

Under the Letter of Intent, the Finger Lakes Museum and the New York State Office
of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will initiate a comprehensive planning
process for the Museum’s facilities at Keuka Lake State Park. The planning process,
which will include public input opportunities and a full environmental review, will
develop a detailed concept design and site building plans.

The Board of Trustees has approved the design of a new logo for the Finger Lakes
Museum, which was created by InHouse Graphics of Geneva and will be unveiled at the event.

Webinars on Historic Preservation Tax Credits

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New government incentives will help many owners of older houses and commercial buildings repair or rehabilitate their buildings. Two free webinars presented by staff from the State Historic Preservation Office will review the basic guidelines for the programs and answer questions about the application process.

The programs require that buildings are individually listed in the State or National Register of Historic Places, or in a listed historic district. Additionally, the buildings must be located in an eligible census tract. The New York State Historic Homeowner Tax Credit Program will cover 20% of qualified rehabilitation costs of owner-occupied historic houses in certain target areas, up to a credit value of $50,000. The Historic Commercial Tax Credit will cover up to 20% of qualified rehabilitation costs up to a credit value of $5 million. Commercial property owners must be approved for the federal historic preservation commercial tax credit, which offers an additional 20% credit on qualified rehabilitation costs. Note that the Commercial Tax Credit program includes rental housing.

Date: Tuesday, August 17, 2010

1:00 – 3:00 Historic Preservation Tax Credit Programs for Commercial Properties

3:30 – 5:00 Historic Preservation Tax Credit Programs for Homeowners

“The Historic Preservation Tax Credit can be a profoundly effective tool in fostering sustainable neighborhoods and revitalizing vacant buildings,” said Carol Ash, Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. “It’s been said that the greenest building is the one that is already built. Under this new initiative approved by Governor Paterson last year, owners of qualified historic homes could qualify for tax credits ranging from $1,000 all the way up to $50,000 for home improvements, including repairs to doors, windows, roofs and plumbing, heating and wiring systems.”

For information about the tax credit programs and further details about the webinars, visit the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation website at www.nysparks.state.ny.us/shpo.

To register for a webinar, send an email to preservation@oprhp.state.ny.us and type “commercial webinar” or “homeowner webinar” in the subject line. Registrants using that address will receive a response with information only on logging in. For questions regarding the webinar, contact Sloane Bullough at 518-237-8643, ext. 3252 or Sloane.bullough@oprhp.state.ny.us.

Registration is limited. Information about the tax credit programs can be found online at http://www.nysparks.state.ny.us/shpo/tax-credit-programs/.

The webinars are sponsored by New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation and the New York State Education Department.

Destruction of Historic Staten Island Beach Community?

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Following a determination by the New York State Historic Preservation Office that the Cedar Grove Beach Club was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district, Staten Island elected officials have called on NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe to abandon plans to demolish the 99-year old community in New Dorp.

Cedar Grove Beach Club is a collection of 41 historic beach bungalows largely built between 1920 and 1940 in New Dorp, Staten Island. The community was established around 1907 as one of many beach campgrounds during the heyday of Staten Island’s shore. Today the Beach Club, located south of the corner of Ebbitts Avenue and Cedar Grove Avenue, is a close-knit community of families who have been on the beach for generations. In the 1960s, New York City took land and cottages by eminent domain as part of a plan to build an expressway through the site. While the road was never built, the scheme that resulted in the destruction of almost all of Staten Island’s historic seaside resort communities.

Cedar Grove alone escaped demolition because the bungalow owners and the Beach Club have rented the property back from the City for nearly 50 years while being responsible for all maintenance of the public beach, playgrounds and property. As one resident remarked, “the Beach Club now pays more in rent in a year than the City paid for the bungalows.”

In December 2009, NYC Parks announced they would not renew the Club’s lease, and ordered the bungalow community’s residents to vacate by December 31, 2009. Following public outcry, and with the support of local community groups and elected officials, Parks agreed to extend the lease until September 30, 2010. Parks has recently announced its intentions to demolish most of area’s buildings immediately after the lease expires, although, as Congressman McMahon’s letter of July 22, 2010 points out, the City has no projected start date or funding for its plans to furnish the beach with lifeguard and concession stands or to facilitate greater public access to the beach area. The sand beach area of Cedar Grove is currently open to the general public and accessible from New Dorp Beach Park to the north and Great Kills Park to the south.

Area residents fear that the city will evict the current occupants of the bungalow colony and defer any future plans for the property indefinitely, leaving the site unmaintained and littered with construction debris, the same situation that exists at the adjacent New Dorp Beach Park. This fear is supported by fact that the city has not initiated the process to obtain appropriate permits to demolish historic structures, to begin new construction on a site designated by the State as a potential sensitive wetlands area, or any of the other clearances typically necessary for a proposed capital project.

Recently, Manhattan Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito (chair of the Parks Committee of City Council) has joined her Staten Island colleagues Vincent Ignizio, James Oddo and Deborah Rose, Congressman McMahon, NYS Senator Lanza, Assmebly member Janele Hyer-Spencer, the New Dorp Central Civic Association and the Historic Districts Council in calling for Parks to abandon their plans to destroy this important historic district and evict 41 families from the Beach Club.

In a letter citing the historic importance of the site, Congressman Michael McMahon, State Senator Anthony Lanza (NY-24), and Councilmen James Oddo (50th District) and Vincent Ignizio (51st District) objected to the Parks Department’s lack of firm plans and the absence of funding for any project at the property, stating that they “fail to see the logic” of evicting the site’s long term residents, especially “given the current economic climate faced by the city” and “the significant financial burden” of taking new construction on the site.

Niagara Falls State Park Celebrates 125 Years

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The nation’s oldest state park, Niagara Falls State Park, celebrated its 125th Anniversary this week with a concert by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on Goat Island and the dedication of a restored pocket park.

On July 15, 1885 then Governor David Hill dedicated the land and created Niagara Falls State Park. Created to protect its natural beauty from the continued industrialization of the river and to allow public access to its scenery, Niagara Falls became a blueprint for public parks across the country-both state and national parks. Eight million people now visit Niagara Falls each year, making it the most popular park in the New York State Park system.

Ancestors of Thomas V. Welch, the first superintendent of Niagara Falls State Park and a member of the Free Niagara Movement, were on hand to dedicate Heritage Park which is the site of a renovated pocket park just outside of Niagara Falls State Park. The park which serves as a connection for visitors between the city and the park is now the home of several plaques and markers from historical events and figures of Niagara Falls State Park. New pavers were also installed and landscaping was done by volunteers from the community.

Anniversary events continue through the reminder of the year including the “History Comes Alive” program where historical figures including Annie Edson Taylor, Frederick Law Olmsted, Nikola Tesla, Father Louis Hennepin and others who spent time at Niagara Falls State Park share their stories of the park with visitors. See www.niagarafallsstatepark.com for a full listing of events.

Increased Visitation Trend Continues at NYS Parks

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The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has announced that Fourth of July holiday weekend attendance numbers were consistent with the strong showing in the early part of the summer season. Attendance over the three-day holiday weekend increased by six percent over last year.

All totaled, nearly 1.9 million people spent a portion of their holiday weekend at a state park or historic site.

Last year, the state park system recorded nearly 56 million visits. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 178 state parks and 35 historic sites. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456, visit www.nysparks.com.

Minnewaska State Park Master Plan Adopted

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The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Palisades Interstate Park Commission have adopted a master plan for Minnewaska State Park Preserve. State Parks has reinstated the master planning process throughout the park system, and Minnewaska State Park is among the first to complete a new master plan. Park master plans define a long-term, sustainable vision for parks by helping to identify best uses for a specific site, make the most of limited resources, and protect the environment.

The Minnewaska master plan includes natural resource protection measures and more avenues for recreation, including expansion of hiking, biking, equestrian and climbing opportunities, and reuse of the former Phillips House as the preserve office and visitor center. [LINK]

The master plan outlines OPRHP’s vision for potential capital improvements, operational enhancements and natural and cultural resource stewardship within Minnewaska State Park for the next ten to fifteen years. Factors such as the availability of funding, the need to invest in rehabilitation of existing park infrastructure, and other pressing needs in the entire state parks system will influence the sequence and timing of the improvements.

Highlights of the plan include:

• Developing a climbing management plan to indicate additional areas suitable for rock climbing;

• Creating a looped single track mountain bike trail system and enhancing the existing woods roads for hiking and horseback riding;

• Implementing ridgewide efforts focused on fire management, deer impacts on biodiversity and invasive species control; and

• Reusing the former Phillips House as the preserve office and visitor center and improving parking lot designs.

Winners of ‘Play in the Parks’ App Contest

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The New York State Chief Information Officer and Office for Technology (CIO/OFT), the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) have announced the winners of the NYS Play in the Parks App Contest.

The NYS Play in the Parks App Contest was an application development contest for graduate students at the NYU-Poly announced in April. Graduate students of NYU-Poly were challenged to create a web-based or mobile application proposal to help citizens discover the beauty and history of the New York State park system.

A panel of judges from the New York State Empire 2.0 Committee, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation and NYU-Poly selected Yigit Kiran’s project proposal “Park Wise” as the grand prize winner. Mr. Kiran will receive a $2,000 scholarship provided by NYU-Poly and will develop his proposal as part of an unpaid internship at CIO/OFT. Mr. Kiran is a computer science student from Istanbul, Turkey.

“Park Wise” is aimed at helping users obtain information on what they see as they travel through parks by using the newest technological trends in human computer interaction. “Park Wise” will be developed as a mobile application to assist visitors of New York State parks. Individuals using the application can learn about the unique and historic sites in New York parks by pointing the camera of their mobile device at a key point of interest. For example, if users point a camera at the Helderberg Escarpment located in Thatcher State Park in Albany, they would learn it is one of the richest fossil-bearing formations in the world.

In addition, “Park Wise” will feature a navigation application. While wandering the parks, “Park Wise” will allow users to see their current location and where they are headed. “Park Wise” users will also have the ability to take photos of their experiences and share them on Facebook, comment on key points of interest, and read other users comments.

Two proposals were also selected as second place winners and each team will receive a $1,000 scholarship to NYU-Poly. The second place team winners were Kunjan Sanghvi, Nisarg Shah and Yogesh Trivedi; and a team comprised of Marvin Charles and Ram Kumar. Honorable Mentions in the contest were awarded to Avinash Vutukuri and Barn Durukan, who will each receive a $500 scholarship to further their educational goals.

NY Parks, Historic Site Attendance Soars

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The State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Carol Ash has announced an increase in park attendance. According to Ash, state parks attendance has increased by 1.3 million visitors, up 11 percent from last year, while July 4th holiday weekend camping reservations reflect 90 percent occupancy. Additionally, sales of the park system’s $65 annual pass, the Empire Passport, increased statewide 1.5 percent over 2009 numbers, with more than 40,000 passes sold this year.

Ash also introduced a new summer campaign to encourage New Yorkers to visit and support state parks and historic sites. The statewide Find Your Fun social network and web-based initiative will run through September and utilize the agency’s website (www.nysparks.com) as well as Facebook and Twitter.

Regular updates and highlights will be provided about summer-related Find Your Fun suggestions and activities going on at state parks and sites to engage visitors. Park staff will offer an insider’s look at popular spots, hidden gems and interesting facts, and visitors will be encouraged to share photos, recipes, and favorites, while programs, activities and trip suggestions will also be promoted.

Ash is also encouraging New Yorkers support parks and historic sites by joining Friends Groups, volunteering at parks or making financial donations to the park through the agency website.

Last year, the state park system recorded nearly 56 million visits. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 178 state parks and 35 historic sites. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.nysparks.com.

Finger Lakes Museum, State Announce Partnership

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The president of the Finger Lakes Museum and the Regional Director of Finger Lakes State Parks have announced the formation of a partnership that will work to move the proposed Finger Lakes Museum forward. In April, the museum’s board of trustees announced that Keuka Lake State Park had been selected as the preferred site for a world­class museum that is planned to showcase the cultural and natural history of the 9,000 square­mile Finger Lakes Region.

Museum president, John Adamski, said that board members and Office of Parks, Recreation, & Historic Preservation (OPRHP) officials from Albany and the region have already met and toured the park as the first step in developing a joint master plan for the museum and public use of state parkland. Regional parks director, Tim Joseph, arranged the meeting and led the tour.

A little­-used 60­-acre section at the north end of the park, bordering Route 54A, is
being considered as the location for the museum’s main campus. Opportunities for interpretive exhibits in other areas of the park are also being examined. Camping and public use of the existing beach, facilities, and boat launch will not be affected.

Andy Beers, OPRHP Executive Deputy Commissioner, stated that while the agency will not be involved in funding the $40 million project, it will make its expertise and services available to help museum organizers develop their plans.

The Finger Lakes Museum is a privately held not-­for­-profit educational institution that was chartered by the New York State Board of Regents in 2009. While some federal and state funding may be available through grant programs, the bulk of the funding is planned to come from private sources and corporations.

In other developments, museum trustee and former site selection committee chairman, Don Naetzker, resigned from the board in May to accept a paid position as the museum’s Project Manager. A licensed landscape architect and professional land planner, Naetzker will coordinate planning efforts with museum organizers, state parks, and architectural and exhibit designers. His recent master planning projects include Frontier Field, Corn Hill Landing, and Charlotte Harbor at the Port of Rochester.
Commercial real estate developer and president of the Finger Lakes Visitors Association, David Wegman, was elected to the museum’s board of trustees in May. He is also owner of Esperanza Mansion Inn and Restaurant in the hamlet of Keuka Park and the tour boat, Esperanza Rose, which offers dinner cruises on Keuka Lake. Wegman was instrumental in bringing the Finger Lakes Museum to Keuka Lake State Park.

Photo: Finger Lakes Museum board members and officials from the state Office of
Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation met last month in order to develop a joint
master plan for Keuka Lake State Park. From left to right: Don Naetzker, FLM project manager; Tim Joseph, Finger Lakes State Parks Regional Director; Mike Wasilco, DEC Region 8 wildlife biologist; Andy Beers, OPRHP Executive Deputy Commissioner; Chris Pushkarsh, OPRHP, Tom Alworth, OPRHP; Bill Banaszewski, FLM; John Adamski, FLM president; John Eberhard, OPRHP; Henry Maus, FLM; Jim Zimpfer, OPRHP; Dan Davis, OPRHP; and Tom Lyons, OPRHP.

State Parks, Historic Sites Make 11 Most Endangered

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation named America’s State Parks and State-Owned Historic Sites to its 2010 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. This annual list highlights important examples of the nation’s architectural, cultural and natural heritage that are at risk for destruction or irreparable damage.

America’s state parks and state-owned historic sites are threatened – perhaps more than at any other time in recent history – with deep funding cuts and uncertain futures. In response to record-breaking deficits, state governments are cutting funding for state-owned and -managed parks and historic sites from coast to coast. State park systems welcome an estimated 725 million visits every year and include places of national significance – from Native American historic sites to Revolutionary War forts to Civil War battlefields to country estates.

This year nearly 30 states have experienced cuts to parks’ and sites’ budgets, and a recent survey estimates as many as 400 state parks could close.

While providing some short-term budget relief, this approach is expected to actually cost states far more in the long term. Before they can re-open, state-owned and managed resources will require massive investments to undo the damage suffered from abandonment, neglect and deferred maintenance. Although at least 26 states across the country are grappling with this issue, the National Trust cited six prime examples, including New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

* In New York State, Governor Paterson announced the closure of 41 state parks and 14 historic sites, including landmarks like the farm and gravesite of abolitionist John Brown, in North Elba, and the beautiful Georgian-era Philipse Manor Hall, in Yonkers, a vibrant center of local community gatherings and activities.

* In New Jersey, state parks and state-owned historic sites have been on life support for years. Now Governor Christie is slashing the budget of the state agency responsible for parks and historic sites—reducing its funding from $11.6 million to $3.4 million. Christie’s stark budget also eliminates all funding for the Battleship New Jersey, the Old Barracks Museum in Trenton, Morven Museum in Princeton, and the Save Ellis Island organization.

* In Pennsylvania, a drastic 37 percent budget cut forced the closure of Old Economy Village—an exceptionally well-preserved religious colony constructed between 1824 and 1830 and the Commonwealth’s first historic site—along with 11 other sites that will close to the public. With Pennsylvania’s next budget projected to be even more severe, the future of Pennsylvania’s historic resources is in jeopardy.

* In Arizona, $19 million in revenue from the operation of state parks and lottery proceeds was cut in half, and thirteen of the state’s 31 parks were forced to close. Ironically, a recent study shows how Arizona state parks—when open—attract 2.3 million visitors annually, generating $266 million of direct and indirect economic impact.

* In California, twice in the last two years, budget challenges have put the state’s 278 parks at risk, prompting their placement on the 2008 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. Chronic underfunding has already impacted 150 parks with reduced services and part-time closures. In a politically-charged climate, a ballot measure slated for November will determine if voters approve a long-term, stable funding solution.

* In Missouri, over 120 state park jobs were eliminated due to the downturn in the economy, making a bad situation even worse. With an existing backlog of deferred maintenance totaling more than $200 million, the state park system’s 1,845 structures—700 of which are historic—are put at even greater risk.

For more information about the states and historic sites facing budget cuts across the country, visit www.PreservationNation.org/11Most.

America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places (in alphabetical order):

America’s State Parks and State-Owned Historic Sites—This year, nearly 30 states have experienced cuts to parks’ and sites’ budgets, and a recent survey estimates as many as 400 state parks could close. These state park systems include places of national significance—from Native American historic sites to Revolutionary War forts to Civil War battlefields to country estates—and welcome an estimated 725 million visits every year.

Black Mountain, Harlan County, Ky. —Nestled at the base of Eastern Kentucky’s rugged Black Mountain, the historic mining towns of Benham and Lynch are working hard to define a future beyond coal. The towns, which have created well-respected heritage tourism sites and are working to revitalize their main streets, now face the threat of multiple surface and deep mining permits on and around Black Mountain—a move that would be tremendously harmful to Black Mountain’s natural beauty, fragile ecology and growing tourism industry.

Hinchliffe Stadium, Paterson, N.J. —Once the pride of Paterson, N.J., Hinchliffe Stadium is one of the last surviving ball parks of baseball’s Negro League. Today, the 10,000-seat, poured-concrete Art Deco stadium that was home to the New York Black Yankees and legendary player Larry Doby, is closed and dangerously deteriorated.

Industrial Arts Building, Lincoln, Neb.—For nearly a century, this dramatic trapezoidal exposition space with natural skylights, intricate roof trusses and a four-story fountained interior, has showcased the best of Lincoln, Neb. Despite its long, proud history, the Industrial Arts Building will soon meet the wrecking ball unless a developer steps forward to rescue and reuse the building.

Juana Briones House, Palo Alto, Calif.—In the heart of Silicon Valley stands the oldest structure in Palo Alto, built by one of the original Hispanic residents of San Francisco, a pioneering woman who was a rancher, traditional healer and entrepreneur. The 1844 adobe home is a rare reminder of California’s rich Spanish and Mexican history. Today this California State Historic Landmark sits abandoned, deteriorated, exposed to the elements and threatened by demolition.

Merritt Parkway, Fairfield County, Conn.—Spanning 37.5 distinctive miles and celebrated for its diverse collection of decorative bridges and lush, natural landscaping, Merritt Parkway remains, 70 years after it was constructed, one of America’s most scenic roads. To accommodate increased traffic on the parkway, the cash-strapped Connecticut Department of Transportation is not performing necessary maintenance and has moved to realign roads, replace bridges and redesign interchanges, all at the cost of the parkway’s unique character.

Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, Washington, D.C.—A major landmark of African American heritage and one of the most important religious institutions in the United States, Metropolitan A.M.E. Church’s red brick Victorian Gothic-style building, completed in 1886, hosted the funeral of congregant Frederick Douglass in 1895 and Rosa Parks a century later. Years of water infiltration and damage caused in part by adjacent construction projects have compromised the structure, prompting the dedicated congregation to launch a national capital campaign to rescue and restore this irreplaceable house of worship.

Pågat, Yigo, Guam—The island of Guam, the westernmost United States territory in the Pacific, is home to the Chamorro people who maintain a thriving culture dating back thousands of years. With the United States military’s announced plans for a massive buildup on the island, many residents are concerned about the potentially devastating impact on the island’s cultural resources, including one of Guam’s most treasured sites, the ancient Chamorro settlement of Pågat.

Saugatuck Dunes, Saugatuck, Mich.—Along the shores of Lake Michigan, the 2,500 acres that comprise the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Area boast a spectacular, sparsely-developed landscape of sand dunes, water, woods and wetlands. Home to several endangered species and a large number of significant historic and archeological sites, Saugatuck Dunes and its surrounding community are threatened by a proposed 400-acre, residential development, to include a marina, hotel, restaurant and retail complex.

Threefoot Building, Meridian, Miss.—For 80 years, this 16-story Art Deco, lavishly decorated, granite-clad skyscraper has been a mainstay of downtown Meridian, Miss. Although a developer expressed interest in rehabilitating the deteriorated building, the City of Meridian has been unable to provide gap financing or other incentives and locals fear that Threefoot’s bright future may end in demolition.

Wilderness Battlefield, Orange and Spotsylvania Counties, Va.—One of the most significant and bloodiest engagements of the Civil War, the Battle of the Wilderness marked the first time that legendary generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant faced off against one another. It is here—in an area known for its rolling landscapes and distant Blue Ridge Mountain views—that Walmart intends to trample on American heritage by constructing 240,000 square feet of “big box” commercial sprawl within the historic boundaries of Wilderness Battlefield and immediately adjacent to the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park.

Photo: Schoharie Aqueduct at the Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site, also known as Erie Canal National Historic Landmark, a historic district that includes the ruins of the Erie Canal aqueduct over Schoharie Creek, in Montgomery County.