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Cliff Abrams: Caring about the community

The pictures in Cliff Abrams' foyer are old, black and white photos. Some of the edges are yellowed and faded underneath the frames.

There's a shot of Skaneateles Lake, of the main drag, of the old private school. They tell the story of Skaneateles -- a simple story, but one important to Abrams.

"This place means a lot to me," Abrams said.

At 82, Abrams is still active in the village of Skaneateles, still caring about that place that means a lot to him. You can still catch him in the second row with his wife Elinor at each of the twice-monthly village board meetings. He'll stand up and speak his piece if he feels like it, but mostly he's there just because he wants to be.

Why? Because he cares about the signs planted without permits by the Episcopal Church on East Genesee Street. Because he cares about the houses on West Lake Street that developers might tear down. Because he cares about the community in which he's lived for more than 60 years.

"Our community is blessed to have someone like him," said Sue Jones, a village trustee. "While I don't always agree with his opinion, I always value and respect it. His opinion is always well thought-out. He really pays attention."

Abrams cares about the changing face of Skaneateles, where older, more historic buildings run the danger of being replaced by newer developments.

"This isn't just a local phenomenon, his is a national phenomenon," said Alan Dolmatch, a village trustee, adding that the village board is working to make it more complicated for residents to rip down potentially historic buildings.

Because Abrams cares, he's angry at those who treat Skaneateles like what he calls a "bedroom" town.

"They get up in the morning, they have breakfast, they go to work, they come home at night and they go to bed," he said. "They don't belong to any of the services. They don't deliver meals on wheels. They don't work for FISH.

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