Historic Preservation Commission
Monday, February 11, 2019
Held at Rochester Town Hall
Members Present: Jens Verhaugh, Alice Schoonmaker, Wilton Duckworth, Franz
Dannecker, Lindsey Arnold, Elaine Laflamme, Jack Schoonmaker (guest), Other (guest)
Members Absent: Alice Cross, Brian Drabkin (Town Board Liaison)
Call To Order: Elaine L. called the meeting to order at 2:03pm.
Minutes: Elaine motioned to approve both December 2018 & January 2019 Minutes.
Franz D. seconded.
Gazlay House Update:
Elaine L. requested a walk-through with David of Altisource/OCWYN (Auction
Processing Company); she received no response.
Elaine L. also contacted property MLS listing realtor, David Torres, and received no
Alice S. asked if a formal letter from the HPC had been submitted to these companies?
Elaine L. responded that the multinational corporate nature of the companies is making
direct, specific communication nearly impossible. Elaine did email a written request to
Daniel Torres, and has not received a response.
Elaine L. noted that as a commission, our one point of leverage may be that any
building permits for this property must come before the HPC for review & feedback with
recommendations for historic preservation.
Alice S. will contact Building Code Enforcement to make sure HPC is notified of any
applications for building or renovation on the property. Jens V. noted that HPC’s goal in
this effort is essentially to bring the property to sale to an appropriate buyer without work
being done on the house that may compromise the historic nature of the house. Jens V.
will reach out again to realtor Daniel Torres.
Neil Larsen Presentation on Historic Accord
Alice S. moved to postpone scheduled Neil Larsen Presentation on hamlet of Accord’s
application for National Historic Registry due to Larsen’s absence, and to proceed with
the agenda. Lindsey A. seconded this.
Update on Project Ideas
a) Written Guidelines: refining existing survey criteria to create a “short list” of priority
preservation sites. Elaine L. would like to discuss this criteria further with Neil
Larsen. It is worth investigating what is most valuable to the Town of Rochester
community regarding preservation, such as vistas, landscapes, structures &
commerce sites. Elaine mentioned the quarries/ rock lots and “stonecutter” industry
of the early agricultural development. These quarries were left out of the 2008
Historic Reconnaissance Survery. Jack Schoonmaker shared that “rock lots” were
named as lots where non-landowners would cut stone from the Shawangunk
Mountains. It was a sizable industry for this area. He told the story of his ancestors
dividing their land holdings into “rock lots” for each of the offspring, that were
intended for gathering firewood for fuel. He said that at the height of the
“stonecutters” era, almost 100 people worked in the Shawangunks cutting stone &
making millstones that were shipped to Philadelphia.
b) O&W Rail Trail: Elaine L. shared that New York State is funding Rail Trail renewal
projects. Alice S. noted that eminent domain concerns among some private property
owners had occurred in the Hurley Rail Trail project & should be taken into
consideration when planning any rail trail expansion. Elaine L. noted that the Accord
Rail Trail is unique in that the O&W railroad and D&H Canal criss-cross here.
Increasing historical signage & public awareness is a possible project. Alice S.
noted that the thirteen Town of Rochester Hamlet signs are part of what the
Commission has achieved so far. They also had historical signage on the rail trail but it
has been defaced or stolen.
c) Elaine L. noted that Minnewaska State Preserve holds a lot of historically significant
features. Would it be possible to partner with them in a public education/historical
d) Jens V. suggested creating an overlay map of historic sites for the Town of
Rochester that would be visible digitally on the Town of Rochester website. It could
include things such as “What to Look For” to indicate historical sites such as old stone
mills, etc. Wilton D. noted that when something is forgotten, it is lost. It would behoove
us to retain as much of this information as possible.
e) The Accordian: a publication of Friends of Historic Rochester, contains a treasure
trove of informative articles that should be the basis for much of our educational
1)Franz D. will begin searching for articles related to present places of historic
interest. Alice C. is the contact for this endeavor.
f) HPC Outreach Letter to Homeowners: An edited version is being circulated at the
1)Recipients need to be identified & budgeting for mailing must be considered.
g) HPC Resources for Homeowners:
1) Access to FHR Museum
2) List of reference books for historic buildings in the area
3) Open list of contractors & other local specialists in historically sensitive
renovations & land work with a disclaimer that we are not recommending anyone in
Next Steps on Projects
Wilton D. offered to work on compiling the book list. Jens V. will work on compiling a
resource list. Lindsey will look into creating a public presentation on the O&W Railroad/
D&H Canal ‘Heritage Corridor’, as well as type a final draft of the letter to homeowners.
Elaine L. will speak with Supervisor Mike Baden regarding the Town Board Liaison
position for the HPC.
Meetings on Federal Holidays
It was unanimously agreed that no change would take place in our Monday meetings,
but that we will revisit holding our meetings on Federal Holidays on a case by case
Adjournment: Alice S. motioned to adjourn the meeting at 3:30pm. Lindsey A.
Historic Preservation Commission