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Grant to help Fort Plain save its heritage

Grant to help Fort Plain save its heritage

The village of Fort Plain will take another step toward preserving its heritage with the help of a $

The village of Fort Plain will take another step toward preserving its heritage with the help of a $3,000 grant from the Preservation League of New York State.

The money will contribute 60 percent of the cost of having a nomination drafted to create a historic district encompassing the entire village.

If approved by the National Park Service, which maintains the National Register of Historic Places, the district will open up funding opportunities aimed at fixing up homes, churches and other buildings.

“We really want to preserve what we have in Fort Plain,” said Micki Lieber, chairwoman of the village Planning Board, which is taking the lead on the project.

“We have very unique architecture in Fort Plain and that was what makes us special,” she said.

The League has been playing an active role in the effort to stave off the loss of so much history in the village’s buildings and other structures.

The Preservation League in 2009 provided $6,500 toward a historic resources survey to catalog village holdings.

A $7,500 grant announced earlier this year is being put toward a study on restoring historic Diefendorf Hall, a three-story brick building built on Main Street in the mid-1800s.

Having a historic district listed the National Register of Historic Places is an honorary designation and doesn’t place restrictions on property owners within the district.

But it does create an opportunity for those interested in fixing up a historic building to possibly get some financial support from government, said Erin Tobin, a program director at the Preservation League.

Maintaining historic attributes can not only save structures, but it can lead to economic development by drawing those interested in relocating to a quaint, historic place.

“It helps it retain that sense of place and Fort Plain is such a fabulous, fabulous place that anything that will help it retain that feeling will only be to its benefit,” Tobin said.

There are several programs at the state and federal levels that support such work in historic districts, including the state’s Historic Home Ownership Rehabilitation Tax Credit, she said.

This program provides tax credits for homeowners who live in a historic home and want to fix up their porches or windows.

There are federal grants for historic work on buildings owned by nonprofits, and still others for those owning church buildings, Tobin said.

Such projects have worked to lure businesses and homeowners interested in taking part in and living around historic areas.

“You see that in Saratoga and in the Albany Center Square neighborhood. Even just up the river in Little Falls,” Tobin said. “In that community, people are fixing up their houses left and right.”

Lieber said she expects the historic listing nomination to be complete in the summer and the village could hear back from the National Register by the fall of 2012.

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