From the village of Skaneateles Historian

Historic district: What's it all about?

By Pat Blackler

Skaneateles has a historic district. It is the downtown district stretching from Onondaga Street along East Genesee Street west to the outlet of the lake. It also exists north on Jordan Street from East Genesee Street over Fennell to the Old Stone Mill.

It was declared a historic district and made a law in 1975. The structures in the district are protected and managed by the Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission. There is a board of nine village residents who serve at the pleasure of the trustees and the mayor. Any proposed changes, alterations or additions to the outside only of the structures in the district come before the HLPC for a certificate of approval. The approval is rarely denied but if it were, there is an appeal process through the village board.

The HLPC, now in 2007, would like to increase the district to offer the same protection to other historic neighborhoods in the village. Choices for the extension would possibly be West Lake Street, West Genesee Street and Onondaga Street. In the near future more neighborhoods would also be considered.

Protection from what? Protection from the compromising of our historic neighborhoods through demolition and rebuilding of inappropriate structures.

The commission and the village board decided to begin with offering it to West Lake Street first-there is a lot of work involved -- then go to other areas.

West Lake Street is probably or is the most beautiful of our historic neighborhoods and the concern of a lot of people is there, considering a house has already been taken down and another is probably going to be.

This "down and up" is happening and accelerating everywhere across the country. Foresightedly, Rochester, NY, has over the years designated eight historic districts to protect their history in buildings and homes.

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