Stella Maris part of the character of Skaneateles
To the editor:
I fell compelled to write once more about saving Stella Maris. We all know that the original Roosevelt Mansion was added on to. But, the core, the very core of Stella Maris is historical.
We travel far and wide to visit old historical sites because we care about the past and what it represents. Yet we can’t save one in our own village? They manage to upkeep and preserve history in Europe for hundreds of years. But we are eager to tear down our past. And then be sorry later on.
Once you tear down history it’s gone forever. You can’t rebuild history.
To retain the character and history of our fine village, the library and Barrow Art Gallery need to stay where they are in their old historical location, where they were meant to be.
Remember these new, young planners, architects and builders don’t care about our history. We have to care about it ourselves. All they want is a new building to plan, to design and build new. They don’t care about tearing our history down. History that will be gone forever. Think about it.
That is why we support saving Stella Maris and our present library and Barrow Art Gallery.
Doug and Clara Clark
Historical society responds to questions on library
To the editor:
From this writer’s perspective there still seems to be much confusion floating around our community with regard to precisely what The Skaneateles Historical Society (SHS) is or what it does.
Over the past year or so the Historical Society has been approached, and questioned as to why it has not become more involved in the Stella Maris / Library concern. S.H.S., it was suggested, needed to do more in saving this iconic old property from demolition.
Please, let me simply point out that the Historical Society is not, nor has it ever been in the business of such activity. Our founders’ by-laws (2012 revision) contains this mission statement: “Its purpose shall be to conduct and encourage historical research and to collect, preserve and exhibit historical material related to the Town of Skaneateles.”
Please notice there is no mention therein of preserving historical sites . . . houses, businesses, building structures or otherwise.
Skaneateles already has its own “Historical Landmark Preservation Committee,” (HLPC) — which does function on behalf of such historic landmark preservation activities.
Finally, within this same topic it is my duty to point out that The Skaneateles Historical Society will not take a public stand on issues such as this – – – “Project Bookends” for example. Our members have every right to express their own opinions as do all private citizens of Skaneateles, and in doing so do not represent or speak for the Historical Society.
We hope that the voices of both the HLPC and the SHS can continue to be heard and to serve their community in meaningful and purposeful ways.
President Skaneateles Historical Society
Concerned with Eastern gateway project
To the editor:
I am concerned about the proposed “Mirbeau Gateway Project.” This is multifaceted project that will require the creation of six non-conforming lots, and encompass two residential zoning districts, A-2 and A-3. Many may assume A-3 is zoned commercial, due to the fact that currently there are only commercial entities in that zone: a hotel, restaurant, and spa, collectively known as Mirbeau. This is misleading because all allowable commercial uses in A-3 require a “Special Use Permit” and restaurants are expressly prohibited.
Mirbeau was spot zoned a decade ago, much to the detriment of the adjacent residential neighbors on Franklin Street. Now they are requesting an expansion to Mirbeau as well as effectively creating another “spot zone” by requesting five non-conforming lots, requiring 30 variances. This project is the antithesis of good zoning and planning. The Village Boards and Trustees should stand behind the Zoning Codes and Comprehensive Plan that they have invested so much time, effort, and tax payer money to create and deny this application.
Support school district
To the editor:
To the Shareholders of the Skaneateles Central School District, our mantra is simple: every child, no matter the circumstance, should have the same opportunity for an excellent education at the lowest cost to our taxpayers. As we are running unopposed for re-election to our respective Board of Education seats this year, we enthusiastically urge you to continue supporting this priority by voting “yes” on Tuesday, May 16 the 2017-2018 school budget.
We thank you, and are honored to continue in this tireless work along with our superintendent, administrative team, teachers, staff, and community advisory-members on behalf of children and tax-payers. We believe this year’s financial plan responsibly supports our mission and the diverse needs of every child– continuing to enrich programs & offer unique opportunities- while being extremely respectful of the financial burden this places on our tax-paying public. Your positive vote for us as board members, and this budget, offers assurance to the important values that continue to guide us as public servants for the community.
We are fortunate to be a school community, rich in our diverse viewpoints. At ‘the end of the day’, it’s community that binds us. Thank you for voting “yes”, on Tuesday , May 16, 2017.
Julie Abbott-Kenan and Geralyn Huba
Library is limited on space
To the editor:
We have lived in the village with our 4 children for nearly 22 years. We have used the library regularly during that time from Toddler Story Time to “Summer Reading Loot” to our own pleasure reading. It is a beautiful historic building for sure. However, it has significant limitations. My own children are well aware that if there is no parking on a rainy or snowy day, we don’t go to the library. It rains and snows here most of the year. Despite living three to four blocks from the library, a mom with three kids under 5 is not going to utilize a space where she can’t park because the stroller doesn’t go well in the snow and nobody is happy wet and miserable. During the summer, obviously things are easier; however, the library is limited for space. Once one family is in the children’s room, it’s pretty much inhospitable to another one. Also, as every mom with a potty learning child (who has to go right now) knows, the second bathroom is a challenge since it is a single upstairs.
We also have significant ties to the former Stella Maris. I worked for 10 years trying to help the Sisters remain in their home with a viable conference business. I loved the place and cried when the Sisters left. However, the building is a rabbit warren of poorly designed additions with phenomenal views but that’s about it. Without a full gut or being razed, the building is/was essentially unusable. Personally, I was excited by the idea of potentially moving the library to the Stella Maris property keeping this beautiful site as an asset to the whole community. We have lots of opportunities for the few to own beautiful lake properties but very few for the many to experience the healing powers of a lake view in all its many moods. In our increasingly busy and stressful world, a library can be a place of refuge and peace.
We urge you all to attend the Project Bookends meetings, as we will, to explore this possibility and others to improve the utilization of the library and position it for the future. As we understand it, no decisions have been made, nor will they be, without the community’s input.
Lynne and John Haberstock and Family
Thoughts on the library project
To the editor:
As the Skaneateles Library Board of Trustees weigh the options of the future of the library, it is important to remember that public libraries are a reflection of the community they serve. The New York State Board of Regents document Creating the Future: A 2020 Vision Plan for Library Service in New York State has this to say about Public Libraries:
“Public libraries reflect the highest of ideals of the communities they serve. The best public libraries are places where the love of learning is instilled at the youngest age and intellectual curiosity encouraged for all. They provide a path to navigate life’s challenges and help new Americans assimilate. As community centers they actively encourage civic engagement and cultural awareness while remembering the past by preservation of community history. They actively strive to provide access to their facilities and their resources to all residents, especially for those who are physically or mentally disabled, economically disadvantaged or otherwise facing unique challenges in today’s competitive world. Their success is grounded in their basis as a truly democratic institution, governed and supported by the people they serve.”
A library’s Board of Trustees is responsible not only to the library but also to the public it serves, in both stewardship and governance. Members must strive to make decisions that benefit and support the entire community, fulfilling duties, and as NYS Librarian Bernard Margolis states “be tireless advocates for improving library services.”
I am confident that the Skaneateles Library Trustees are doing their due diligence regarding the future of the library. As community members I urge you to participate by attending the Open House events.
Skaneateles Director, Liverpool Public Library
Thank you to the historical society
To the editor:
The Skaneateles Democratic Committee extends a warm thank you to the Skaneateles Historical Society for letting us hold a town hall health care forum on April 12 at the Society’s museum at the Creamery. We are grateful to board member David Miller for his patience helping us with the Museum’s tech equipment. We also thank Museum Director Laurie Winship, who graciously allowed us to set up on our schedule and who showed us around.
We are especially thankful to the evening’s health care panel: Joseph Paduda, principal at Health Strategy Associates; Dr. David Duggan, Upstate Medical University; and Margaret (Peggy) Chase, RN, Keuka College. They led us in a robust, informative discussion about health care here in Onondaga County and especially about what happens if the ACA is repealed.
A gem of a concert
To the editor:
The evening of April 26, brought not only pleasant spring breezes to the shores of Skaneateles Lake, but also the sounds of a concert performed by the combined efforts of the LeMoyne College Chamber Orchestra and the Skaneateles High School Orchestra. Happy Birthday Ella was the theme of the evening, presenting seventeen well known tunes either written by Ella Fitzgerald, or collaborated with other celebrated musicians of her time. The audience was also treated to the vocal talents of Cathy Butler, former LeMoyne student and Joe Carello, one of Central New York’s premier saxophone artists. The patrons of the concert clearly enjoyed the talents of the musicians and performers, demonstrated by the number of tapping feet and fingers seen on almost everyone in the audience as the music flowed effortlessly from the groups.
As a parent of one of the musicians, and the father of four children who have been involved in many facets of their high school careers, both athletically and artistically, it was truly impressive to observe this collection of talent, and I need to commend all of these students and recognize the sacrifice that goes into putting together such a high caliber performance. It further demonstrates the spectrum of activities that are available to young people in our area today. In addition, congratulations to Karen Veverka, the director of the Skaneateles High School Orchestra and Travis Newton of LeMoyne College for having the foresight to combine efforts in order to promote the arts and live music in our community. Regardless of whether or not you are friend or family of a member of either group, if you are a fan of the arts, and missed this performance, I highly suggest you take in the next one … it is a treat, and was an hour well spent.
This was an excellent example of how local school districts and institutions of higher learning can successfully collaborate for the benefit all … to the communities of Skaneateles and LeMoyne … BRAVO !
Michael E. Alberts
Skaneateles Library- Fast forward to 2022
To the editor:
The Learning Center has now been open for several years. It did OK for the first few months. As a novelty, some people came from outlying towns. The adult coloring class was popular for a time but the fad soon died out.
Now, there’s quite a bit of empty space in the non-library portion of the Learning Center, as few people are going to the classes in yoga, sewing, etc. Also, in order to come in under the 15 million dollar estimate, cheaper materials had to be used. Already, there are expensive maintenance issues. There’s talk of a substantial tax increase and if that doesn’t go through, the Learning Center could actually be sold.
The saddest thing for neighbors of the Learning Center was watching the tear-down of the former Stella Maris. The mighty mansion put up quite a fight. Even with the heavy equipment that was used, portions of the original structure resisted demolition.
Traffic has been a problem but there have only been three accidents and, luckily, no one was seriously injured. Only one accident caused the Learning Center insurance premiums to increase. Still, it’s difficult to pull in and out of the parking lot but the Village is trying to get the state to put in another traffic light. Village officials are “cautiously optimistic”.
Unfortunately, the parking lots have been a challenge as local teens have been using them for impromptu parties resulting in noise and trash deposits. However, the Library Board feels they can correct the problem by increased lighting or by hiring a security guard.
Meanwhile, the lake is still being tested for contaminants. The rumor is that not all the lead and asbestos from demolition had been carted away and the water near the shoreline has been mysteriously devoid of fish and other wildlife. Some of those on the Board have suggested a lawsuit.
Suffering the most is the Barrow Gallery. It turns out that it was mostly tourists who came to see the collection in the Village center, although the first week, following the opening, brought a busload of school children from Syracuse. Unfortunately, the kids weren’t happy as their teacher stopped them from running down to the lake. There’s talk of adding a chain link fence, as this seems to be a recurring problem.
The former historic library has had a rocky start as condominiums. The developer put an addition on top of the building. He said it wouldn’t show from the street, but it does. He had to gut the interior but said he would “try to save moldings and the fireplace”. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. A couple of units have sold but they’re very expensive and only the add-on penthouse has even a partial lake view. A local artist had leased a studio on the main level (as Project Bookends had promised to have an arts-oriented operation) but she quickly moved out. Of course, non-profits are not able to afford the space.
Meanwhile, some of the village shops have closed and their storefronts remain vacant. It turns out that the historic library actually was a draw for the tourists and residents alike. Both shopped and patronized the local restaurants when they visited the old library. The municipal lot is still free available parking for town and village residents, but there is no place to go, once parked. The good news is that there may be a new shopping center coming into the Eastern Gateway.
Is this prophecy exaggerated? A ridiculous fiction? Maybe….or maybe not.
It is not too late to keep these things from happening. The relocation of our beloved library has consequences. Please encourage the Skaneateles Library Board of Trustees to follow the lead of Nancy Reagan, and to “just say no” to the Project Bookends!
Thoughts on Project Bookends
To the editor:
Looking into the future of all libraries, at some point, the written word will be electronic, as the norm. This born of convenience and vast content. Libraries will be preserved as museums of days gone by, such as the Smithsonian. Similar to our historic village center, we must fight to retain the charm and value of such institutions. Expansion, would allow for ease of accessibility to all, at the present location.
We are blessed, in this community, to have so many venues locally, and nearby with activities that engage young and old. Sports, theater, recreation, a school district consistently in the top 500 in the country, receive wide support from our residents.
As of yet, we have not seen a master plan of what the vision for a multi million dollar learning center is. Grandiose plans with little meat to it’s function. Coffee shop, auditorium, children’s room, adult education, are things that already exist. Auburn Public Theater, the Schweinfurth, BOCES, our YMCA/Community Center, and two local community colleges, all within a 20 minute or less drive, are available to our citizens.
The costs of such a plan and the increased burden to tax payers with relocating our library to such a dream, will undoubtedly be at the very least, triple or more, what the current school tax levy for operational expense are. Fund raising consideration would involve just too much to bear for the general public to sufficiently fund a learning center in perpetuity.
Add to the costs ultimately, despite the generous donation of a building site, is the costly demolition of the former Stella Maris. Asbestos, lead, groundwater contamination and run off, potentially an endless list of expenses that no one can predict the actual cost.
At issue also, is the move for rezoning the heart of our residential district. I can’t even imagine what property owners must be thinking at even the suggestion of multi million dollar learning center as their new neighbor.
Take safety precautions when walking on rural roads
To the editor:
About two years ago, a father and daughter walking on a rural road about midnight, were struck by a car. The father died. The article in the Post Standard stated that the two pedestrians were walking in the same direction as traffic. It also stated that they were wearing dark clothes, and that the accident occurred around midnight.
I waited to write about this accident in order to respect the grieving family. I believe that enough time has passed that I can comment on it. I hope that my comments will help save somebody’s life in the future.
I learned in grade school that when walking on rural roads that have no sidewalks, the proper and safest side is to walk, jog or run facing oncoming traffic. I am amazed at how often I see foot traffic on rural roads walking or running in the same direction as traffic.
When a person is walking in the same direction as traffic, he’s placing his life in the hands of the driver. The driver, however may be drunk, texting, telephoning or as in the case of the above accident, be a young, inexperienced driver. (The driver fled the scene and went home and told his father about the incident, and the father wisely brought his son back to the scene of the accident.)
Besides walking on the unsafe side of the road, the article mentioned that their clothing was dark. Wearing dark clothing when walking on a rural road at night means that the driver can not see you. All sporting goods stores sell reflective jackets and leg and arm bands. Person walking or running at night on rural road, should wear reflective clothing and/or arm or leg bands for their own safety.
I write this in the hope of saving lives.
Dr. Sebastian Bentivegna
Thank you from rotary
To the editor:
Thank you to the many local businesses, artists, and organizations that supported the Skaneateles Rotary Club’s successful fundraiser for Alzheimer’s research at the third annual International Women’s Day (IWD) event. Held at the Lodge, the event featured inspirational speaker Rev. Dr. Cynthia Huling Hummel, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Hummel has made Alzheimer’s her mission since the disease forced her to retire as a minister. She congratulated Rotarians for being “bold for change” which was the theme of IWD. Thanks to all in attendance, and to those listed below for donations to the raffle and silent auction, for helping Rotary raise $6,000.
Allied Sign Company
Aristocats & Dogs
Auburn Public Theater
Betsy Sio/East Street Tins
Bev & Co.
Blue Water Grill
Buttonwood Grove Winery
Cate & Sally
Chocolate Pizza Company
Drooz & Company
Emma James Boutique
Finger Lakes On Tap
Finger Lakes Photography*
Jack Hyatt K
Kathy Crelot, Cruises Inc.
LIFT Fitness & Training, Auburn*
Mackenzie – Childs
Mid-Lakes Navigation Co.
Merry Go Round Playhouse
Mottville Consignment & Emporium
Natural Creations by Cathy Powell
Skaneateles Chamber of Commerce
Skaneateles Festival *
Skaneateles Jewelry *
Skaneateles Nails & Spa
The Sherwood Inn
Smiles of Skaneateles
Vermont Green Mountain Specialty
Village Bottle Shop
Amy Tormey, event chair
Bill Huba, Rotary Club president