Schenectady County

Flint Friends disband citing apathy

An organization that maintains the historic Flint House has decided to disband after members express
PHOTOGRAPHER:

An organization that maintains the historic Flint House has decided to disband after members expressed frustration with lack of respect for their work.

President Cindi Pytlovany confirmed that the Friends of the Flint House voted last Thursday to dissolve. The group’s vice president, Hasna Kaddo, quit immediately and Pytlovany will step down as soon as the group’s books are closed and a summer building project is finished.

The village has owned the house since 1994. Resident Lillian Flint bequeathed the home to the village to be used as a museum and park. The Friends of Flint House formed three years ago to coordinate volunteer efforts to restore the property. The organization has obtained $50,000 in grants and in-kind donations to fix up the house, including rebuilding the porch and demolishing a dilapidated barn. The organization also hosts periodic lectures and programs and is the temporary home of the Charles Moehle artifact collection that includes Native American tools, arrowheads and some examples of Woodland period pottery.

Mayor Kris Kastberg said he had not been informed of the group’s decision to disband and added it would be a shame to lose the Flint House as a village attraction over “relatively innocuous issues.” He praised the group’s efforts in securing grants for projects.

“What’s been done in the last couple of years by the Friends of the Flint House has made a world of difference,” he said.

Pytlovany said it was a combination of factors that led to the decision to dissolve. “Every inch of the way with this mayor, it has been a fight,” she said.

The issue came to head earlier this month when Pytlovany was charged with illegal dumping when she took a bag of garbage from a trash bin located at the park property near the house and dropped it off at the office of Superintendent of Public Works Tom Cushing. Pytlovany had been frustrated that garbage was not being collected. Village officials later dropped the charge.

POINTS OF FRUSTRATION

Despite assurances that the garbage would be collected, Pytlovany said, it is still a problem. The Friends of the Flint House group was concerned about overall maintenance of the property. Pytlovany said there were tree limbs that needed to be picked up. She also cited a septic tank hole on the property that is covered with a couple boards and a truckload of dirt.

In addition, the group was concerned because the village budgets only about $6,200 annually to take care of the house.

Pytlovany said she plans to stay on until some work is done to replace a rain gutter that had rotted.

Kaddo said it seemed like the organization was butting heads when it asked to get any work done. “I don’t feel as a volunteer the things that we are doing are appreciated,” she said.

In a related matter, Pytlovany’s husband Bill resigned as chairman of the village Park Commission.

Kastberg said he also understand the Friends’ concerns about cleaning up yard waste. However, the village has to maintain four parks and other properties it owns. “With only two full-time people in the parks department and summer help, we’re stretched pretty thin,” he said.

Kastberg said that the village covered up the septic hole and it plans to fill it in when a new grinder pump is installed.

If the group goes forward with disbanding, Kastberg said, he will put the Flint House activities on hold until the village or some other volunteer group wants to take over. The village historian still has her office in the Flint House.

Trustee Carol Carpenter, who serves as the board liaison to the Friends of the Flint House, said she understands that the village has to prioritize its limited resources. “The residents can’t afford higher taxes to hire more people to do the work,” she said.

Trustee Armon Benny said he believes this situation demonstrates the need for the village to have a maintenance plan for all its properties.

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