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Letters: Town of Cazenovia seeks to document historic resources

To the editor:

The Town of Cazenovia recently authorized a team to document its significant historic, architectural, and cultural resources in the town, including New Woodstock. And we need your help. This letter hopes to explain the what, why, and how and what it means to you.

First, What: Using the criteria of NY State, a historic property is "any building, structure, district, area, site, or object over fifty years old that is of significance in the history, architecture, archeology, or culture of the State, its communities, or the nation."

Is your house or other resource "significant?" There are four recognized criteria, two of which particularly address the Cazenovia project: The resource is associated with events or persons that have contributed to the broad patterns of Cazenovia's history; and/or it embodies distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction.

Why: Despite what one may think, much of the information on structures is confined to large estates, or housed in different books or entities, or not documented at all. Neighborhoods, settlement areas, businesses, family cemetery plots, and barns have been overlooked, yet they have contributed much to the development of what Cazenovia is today and its character. Many of their stories are only in undocumented memories. This project aims to document and include them in Cazenovia's history. A second reason, as a stated goal of the Comprehensive Plan, development of Cazenovia must and can be undertaken with an informed knowledge of how it impacts those properties the community deems significant.

How: A team of your neighbors is canvassing neighborhoods for potential properties and sites to be included in Cazenovia's history. In respect of your privacy, they will observe from the road. But many of our historic resources are off the beaten path or sight unseen. If you know that your house or something on your property is likely not to be observed, please contact the New Woodstock team leader Sara Chevako at stchevako@frontiernet.net or Cazenovia town team leader Sarah Webster at dspswebster@aol.com. We are not identifying any properties to submit them for national or state registers; that is left to the owner.

When: Between now and January. Identifying our local landmarks and understanding their role in the development of Cazenovia help us understand our past and better plan for the future. Please help! We are searching for your history.

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