Town councilor responds to Gothic Cottage concerns


To the editor:

In response to Jonathan Holstein’s concerns about the future of the Gothic Cottage, published in the Feb. 27 issue of the Cazenovia Republican, I would say first that this is something the town board has been thinking and talking about for several years.

We have investigated the possibility of moving the town offices to another building, as he suggests, but decided against that for two reasons. One is economic. Because the Gothic Cottage, to be usable, needs major work on its infrastructure, town taxpayers would be responsible for both an extensive and expensive upgrade of that property as well as the adaptation of another building for use as a town office (and even a modern house would require quite a bit of modification).

The second reason we decided against this alternative is that we — like Mr. Holstein and many others in our community — love the Gothic Cottage and value its historic significance. A couple of years ago, a speaker from the New York State Historic Preservation Office said that historically-significant buildings often were best protected and preserved when they were owned and occupied by municipalities. We agree. If we wanted to sell the building, either we would have to put so many covenants and restrictions in place that it would be difficult to find a buyer, or the community would have to watch as a new owner made significant changes for whatever use they had in mind.

There is a better alternative. We believe that the town offices can continue to exist happily in a sensitively-rehabilitated and improved Gothic Cottage, with the exterior preserved substantially intact and the interior altered as little as is necessary to create functional meeting rooms, storage areas, restrooms and offices. We think the welcoming “period” atmosphere Mr. Holstein mentioned can be preserved, but without the rotting walls, lack of insulation, below-par electrical service, bats and mice.

The town board plans to work with an architectural firm with a commitment to historical and architectural preservation, and we will certainly seek suggestions and comments from the public during the process of planning the project.



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