Preservation League cites commission for restoring village

The work of the Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor Commission to turn the village from a company town w
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The work of the Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor Commission to turn the village from a company town with Beech-Nut as its focus to a center for tourism in the valley has earned statewide recognition from the Preservation League of New York State.

The commission is one of the recipients of this year’s Excellence in Historic Preservation awards for its work with the Canajoharie Revitalization Program.

The program has been ongoing since 2000 and has transformed the look of the village by restoring old buildings, creating parks and greenways and improving streetscapes.

Fred Miller, executive director of the Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor Commission, said the Preservation League, which toured the village last month, awarded the corridor commission because of its partnerships with the municipality and other entities to complete its efforts. The commission works with grant writers, architects and contractors to carry out revitalization, Miller said.

The award for Excellence in Historic Preservation will be presented during the Preservation League’s annual meeting and awards ceremony in New York City on May 15.

The village has received four grants since 2003 from the state’s Small Cities program for facade improvements, according to Mayor Leigh Fuller.

The village is holding a public hearing on its application for the 2008 Small Cities program and the continuation of the village’s facade improvement efforts. This next grant could be up to $650,000.

“We have taken a partnership approach, which is something [the Preservation League] talks about, but they don’t see,” Miller said. “It’s not just that the village is restored, rather it was the innovative teamwork approach on a grand scale that they liked.”

“It was a team effort, no question about it,” Fuller said.

Miller said the MVHCC was selected for the award among more than 50 nominees.

The Preservation League has been giving out its Excellence in Historic Preservation Awards since 1979 to acknowledge excellence in the protection and revitalization of the state’s historic architectural and cultural resources.

Miller said that while the award doesn’t come with any financial prize, the statewide recognition is significant.

“It’s just a big recognition award, but excellent testimony that we’re doing extraordinary things,” Miller said.

Canajoharie’s downtown has been determined eligible for National Register listing and an application has been reviewed by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

In the village’s submission to the Preservation League for consideration of the excellence award, officials noted that six buildings, encompassing 11 facades and 12 storefronts, have been rehabilitated. Five additional restoration projects are planned for this this year.

Village Trustee Garth MacFarland said that the positive recognition from the Preservation League pierced a hole in the negative cloud floating above the village as concern continues regarding the fate of the village following the relocation of Beech-Nut and its 335 jobs to a new manufacturing plant in the town of Florida by 2011.

Beech-Nut is the village’s largest employer.

“Obviously this has been a difficult time over the last 12 to 14 months,” he said, “but this perks up the owners of the buildings.”

Fuller said that while the taxpayers won’t see any relief from this award, it should make the residents feel better.

“Our hard times are about to fall on us and it’s not a pretty picture as you can imagine,” he said. “We’re going to have a different life, and we’re hoping it will be at least as good.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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