Amsterdam’s Elwood Museum files notice of claim

The Walter Elwood Museum filed a notice of claim Tuesday afternoon with the Greater Amsterdam School

The Walter Elwood Museum filed a notice of claim Tuesday afternoon with the Greater Amsterdam School District, a move that protects the museum’s financial future, according to Jacki Meola, president of the museum’s Board of Trustees.

The museum had 90 days to file the claim notice, which would have been up Friday.

However, the issue didn’t affect the Board of Education’s unanimous approval of a lease agreement with the museum Tuesday night.

Meola said the museum currently does not have any intentions of suing the district but legally had to file the claim. “We might have a claim, but I want to make clear that there is no lawsuit, no intention to file a lawsuit and we are not working with an attorney,” Meola said.

The notice protects the museum in case it incurs a financial loss associated with the building’s closure as a result of the school board’s decision on Aug. 28.

The board decided to close the building at 300 Guy Park Ave. after learning that one of the museum’s employees became ill as a result of exposure to bat feces.

Meola said there is a “minute” chance that the state or federal government would make the museum repay its grant money as a result of not finishing the work required by those grants because museum staff was not allowed in the building.

Of the museum’s $120,000 operating budget last year, $100,000 was funded through grants.

Meola said filing the claim on the same day as the school board was supposed to vote on a lease agreement with the museum was a “complete coincidence.”

School board member Michael Parillo, who also serves on the museum board, said he thought the museum’s decision to file the notice of claim was a “slap in the face” to him and the rest of the board members who were working with the museum to create this lease agreement.

School board member James Walrath also brought up the coincidence of the museum’s filing the claim on the same day as a vote on the lease agreement during discussion at the board’s meeting Tuesday night.

The six-month lease agreement will open the building to the museum again in exchange for $750 per month beginning Dec. 1. The agreement would allow the museum to be open to the public two to three days per week and allow volunteers to come in to work with the collections and pack up the building’s contents in anticipation of moving.

The public would only be allowed in the building for special programs, which are necessary to keep the museum’s grants.

Other stipulations in the agreement state that the building’s temperature be kept at 65 degrees while people are in the building and 55 degrees when they are not.

School board President Gina DeRossi said the board’s attorney, William Mycek, will bring the agreement to the museum board today.

“If they accept it, the lease will be effective Dec. 1,” she said.

The board also approved the appointment of David Ziskin as the new principal at Amsterdam High School.

Ziskin, a former administrator at the Fonda-Fultonville School District, has spent the last few years working for a private education consulting firm, Successful Practices Network.

DeRossi and board member Sean Piasecki voted against hiring Ziskin.

DeRossi said she felt another candidate who interviewed for the job was better.

“I will 100 percent support David, though. I’m glad to have him, it wasn’t anything personal. I just felt the one candidate was better,” she said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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