The City Historian is Angry!

Amsterdam’s City Historian Robert von Hasseln is angry with the ill-prepared editorial A plan for the city’s future, published in the July 2, 2011, edition of the Recorder that has incorrect information and misconceptions about Historic Preservation.  He expressed his anger in a tersely worded letter sent to Recorder Editor Charlie Kraebel and the entire Historic Amsterdam League. I have since removed the letter from my blog at Mr. von Hasseln’s request and he is free to comment or repost if he so desires.

As a member of both the Zoning Update Committee and the Historic Amsterdam League, I agree with the City Historian.

The following statement from the Recorder editorial is just incorrect:

One interesting issue addressed in the update is the historic resources overlay zone that includes a section of Guy Park Avenue, Guy Park Avenue Extension and the Bridge Street area. It’s largely the same area that exists now in the historic resources overlay district, though the current ordinance lays out no guidelines or method of enforcement.

The historic overlay zone did not change in the proposed zoning ordinance. There are historic guidelines in our current ordinance with enforcement common to all sections of zoning code. They have never been followed by either code enforcement or the Planning Commission. Our current guidelines can be found in the following link.

§ 250-34. Development within the Historic Resources Overlay (HR-O) District.

The next statement taken from the editorial is just a flippant remark with no real insight or effort to find any factual information about the reasoning behind a local Historic Preservation Commission.

Also, the new draft establishes a Historic Review Board that would have to approve windows, doors, siding, demolition, new buildings, additions and more. During a series of ward meetings to discuss the progress of the zoning ordinance update, residents of the Guy Park Avenue area were concerned that the regulations might be too costly. That concerns us as well. Plus, the last thing Amsterdam needs is another board when there are several already in place, particularly planning and zoning boards, set up to deal with issues like this.

Our current regulation is not working, necessitating change. The Historic Preservation Commission is a necessary part 0f establishing Amsterdam as a Certified Local Government which also enables the City to receive Federal Historic Grants and tax credits. The membership of the Commission is regulated by New York State and must be composed of at least one from each the following categories; an architect experienced with historic buildings, a historian, a resident of a historic district, a member of a local historic preservation group. The NYS guidelines can be found in the following links.

Certified Local Government Program in New York State

Certified Local Government Program Explained

Legal Aspects of Municipal Historic Preservation

The membership of the Historic Amsterdam League have agreed to voluntarily conduct a visual survey of Amsterdam’s buildings under guidance of the City Historian, to decide if the current Historic Overlay District needs to be expanded or reduced in some areas. There are many homes in our city that contain significant historic architectural features that are outside of the current district. Adding new historic zones would make them eligible for preservation grants. This effort has no effect on the current zoning proposal. Any changes would have to be added after the passing of the proposed ordinance.

The City Historian came up with a solution that is both sound and reasonable to help keep Amsterdam’s architectural history. The members of the Zoning Update Committee agreed and the community should also.

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5 thoughts on “The City Historian is Angry!

  1. Diane

    Jessica is Leaving?? or has left?? permanently??

  2. Diane

    Jerry, I have decided Charlie is just looking to cause trouble and stir up the VV for more hits. I know you all debated this Historic Overlay District and took Rob’s comments into consideration. They made much common sense to me and hope this moves forward. Historic Preservation can really help a community move forward and I look to ours doing the same. It can and does make a difference. It will make people think twice about doing certain things to their homes and may well help to bring Guy Park back to its glory along with some other areas. I know Rob is passionate about HAL and I for one wish him all the luck. Our city is very fortunate to have someone so dedicated to what he believes in, in his capacity as City Historian.

  3. Received this email today from the Editor of The Recorder:

    Mr. Skrocki,

    Your latest blog post is an attempt to attack me, something you do quite frequently on your site. Since my boss asked that the post that offended you taken down (which I would have done anyway had I gotten your original email, which I did not), I have since decided not to mention you or your website on the Venner Vox ever again. You have also been banned from participating on any Recorder website, including the Venner Vox.
    I would appreciate it if you remove my name and the shots taken at me from your latest blog post, and I would also appreciate it if you never mention my name or the Venner Vox again.
    If you do not have the decency to do that, I would at least appreciate it if you remove the historian’s post-script and Diane’s subsequent comment regarding Jessica Maher from the post.
    Jess does not get involved with the blogs and never posts there. She simply reports the news, and it’s unfair that she would become a part of a blog discussion.

    There is no need for you to respond to this email. Whether or not you agree to my request will be answer enough.

    Thank you,
    Charlie Kraebel

  4. Banned not for violating any of the Venner Vox rules, but for asking that the offensive title to Kraebel’s blog post (containing my full name and a reference to bestiality) be removed.

    Subjected to ridicule because I am a gay man who chose to stand up for my civil rights at a City Council meeting and ask the Council to support Marriage Equality through a resolution to the State Legislature.

    Mr. Skrocki,
    I’m not sure what you find to be demeaning.
    There certainly isn’t anythihg “discriminatory” about the comment.
    As far as your public official staus goes, I would say that when you post comments online as often as you as active as you are in local politics, I’d say you are a notable figure.
    If you hadn’t brought a motion forth publicly regarding this issue, it would be inappropriate to use your name.

    Geoff Dylong
    Associate Publisher
    William J. Kline & Son, Inc.
    518-843-1100, ext. 104

    To all:
    I am pulling this post simply because Mr. Skrocki has shown he does not understand Charlie’s use of irony in the post (regarding other people’s comments) and it is being twisted out of context. There will be no further references to Mr. Skrocki on the Venner Vox, ever.

    I will not publicly debate this.

    Kevin McClary
    Wm. J. Kline & Son, Inc.

    …but I digress, now back to the topic at hand, anger over the ill-prepared editorial in The Recorder, the official newpaper of Amsterdam that I PAY good money to read. As a consumer, I expect more of “professional” journalists.

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