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Clearspeak: Self-interests, missing monuments and frackers

Community Columnist

Enlightened Self-interest

A few more thoughts about the Muraco development proposal for the historic Enders property.

Some years ago, through my association with a large New York City law firm, I represented some of Manhattan’s largest developers — Boston Properties, for example, and Milstein Properties. My clients were aggressive men just as intensely focused on their bottom lines as Muraco.

I learned by representing them that there is self-interest, and then there is enlightened self-interest.

At that time, the New York City zoning law had built into it a certain amount of horse-trading. In return for constructing “amenities,” a developer could win approval for a larger development. Thus, for example, by dedicating the plaza at the base of his office tower as a public park, the developer could add a few floors to the tower. (This is, by the way, how Zuccotti Park of Occupy Wall Street fame came to be.)

There was nothing corrupt about this; the trade-off was transparent and provided for in the zoning law. And through this exercise of enlightened self-interest, both the City and my clients profited.

Similarly, Muraco would derive substantial benefit if, instead of threatening to demolish the Ender’s farmhouse and its outbuildings, he offered to refurbish them for a adaptive reuse — for offices, say, or a store.

The gratitude he would win from a large swath of Cazenovians would, I’m certain, translate into a sympathetic reception for his future development proposals — the ones that don’t entail destruction of irreplaceable historic resources.

The missing monument

Now let’s move on to the mystery of the missing monument.

Betty Marshall has deep roots in Cazenovia – roots that wend their way around the historic Enders farmhouse. Her husband’s ancestor, Revolutionary War veteran Simeon Marshall, was the property’s original owner.

Ms. Marshall informs me that there used to be a “heavy brass sign” at the site, first installed by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1952, commemorating Simeon’s Revolutionary War service and the site’s historical importance. Now this marker has gone missing – right around the time the threat to demolish the 180-year-old farmhouse standing on the site makes it more important than ever. Is there a reader out there who knows what happened to it?

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