West Lake Streeters upset
Citizens concerned over proposed expansion of historic district in Skaneateles
A proposal to expand the current historic district in Skaneateles drew quite a crowd on Saturday Jan. 6. The Skaneateles Community Center room filled with those who reside on West Lake Street, as well as nearby neighbors to express their concerns before Mayor Robert Green, the village board, and the local Historic League Preservation Commission.
It was a thoughtful and for the most part, cooperative group that voiced their opinions. Green opened the meeting promptly at 9 a.m. and moderated the flow of commentary.
At issue is the expansion of the historic district that currently encompasses the primary business district on Genesee Street to the outlet and allowing that expansion to go up the full length of West Lake Street. The mayor, town historian Beth Batlle, and Chuck Williams, chairman of the Historic League Preservation Commission, spoke before community members to outline the proposal. As the village has received an increasing number of requests by property owners to tear down and replace current buildings, the problem of maintaining the character of the street for the village is juxtaposed against the property owner's right to build or maintain whatever type of home they desire. This is a reflection of a national trend.
Those whose local economy is somewhat dependent on the success of the historic district seek to protect and maintain these districts. Speaking on behalf of the HLPC, Williams said that the commission serves locally at the pleasure of the mayor and village board and that the formation of a historic district process is lengthy and considerate. The creation of any type of initial or expanded historic district could only be reached after a proposal is made and a meeting of the Village Board is held. After which a survey, conducted by the HLPC, and released with recommendations to the Village Trustees and shared via another public hearing would happen before the creation of a law that would designate the historic district could be passed.