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Preservation: It Makes Dollars and Sense

Preservation provides both economic and intangible benefits.

Yorktown is a great place to live with safe family neighborhoods, extensive parklands and numerous shopping and dining opportunities all within minutes of each other. 

However, its historic character is not being adequately protected and continues to disappear.

Many people think that little of historical importance occurred here in the past but the exact opposite is true. Yorktown has a rich history and its former inhabitants played an active and sometimes prominent role in the history of our country.  With the gradual disappearance of the physical world they inhabited—the houses, barns, commercial buildings and pastoral landscapes – their stories and the unique character of Yorktown itself is fading away. 

The latest loss was the over 200 -year old Knapp Homestead on Old Crompond Road that might have been preserved alongside the new retail structure going up at the site if more thought had gone into the planning process.

Living in an old house or on a farm is certainly not for everyone and no one wants to go back in time. But most people appreciate the visual charm of an historic structure or a beautiful landscape vista and the sense of place they provide.  Perhaps because our lives are temporary, the sight of a structure built by hand that has survived through the centuries reassures us that some things we create will endure. A preserved landmark also reminds us more powerfully than mere photos or written records of those who lived here before us providing needed perspective as we ponder the challenges and opportunities of our own time.

It is also important to note that preservation provides an economic advantage to the community as a whole.  People expect natural beauty and historic charm in northern Westchester and we should be protecting both so that Yorktown continues to be a desirable place to live and do business. Studies have indicated that houses within historic districts have higher values than comparable structures in undesignated neighborhoods and historic preservation spurs the growth of local businesses. 

As we consider new development projects in our town, it’s time breathe new life into our town motto “Progress with Preservation”: it’s in our best interest both spiritually and financially.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Francis T McVetty January 09, 2013 at 09:26 PM
I would like to ask Jean-Francois de Laperouse are you a Yorktown resident? I seem to remember that those who opposed the Yorktown school district demolishing the old Knapp Homestead came from out of town. Has anyone that wants these buildings saved actually looked into a foundation or other means to save them WITHOUT the taxpayers taking it in the neck for the cost? Most of those "do gooder's" seem to have no skin in the game or they are pretty well off. I would like to remind them that we are in an era of economic hard times and the prospects don't look promising for at least the next 4-6 years. It is time to be belt tightening, not adding to the debt.. There is no discretionary spending money left in the budgets. It is nice to have all those things that have been mentioned but it won't make any difference if you can't afford to live in Yorktown because of the taxes!!!! Want to breathe new life into a town, make it affordable to live in!!! Sorry for being so radical.
Jean-Francois de Laperouse January 09, 2013 at 10:08 PM
I don't think that it's correct to say that most of those advocating for the preservation of the Melbourne Farmhouse came from out of town. As you may know, the school board spent around $300K of our taxes (yes, I am a Yorktown resident too) to demolish that structure which could have been used to save it for future use. But I agree that in these challenging times local taxes cannot be spent on preservation projects unless agreed upon by a town bond issue. My hope at this point is to attract support and funding from private individuals and local businesses. Neighboring towns have done this and the benefits are real.
Bob Rohr January 10, 2013 at 02:44 AM
I would like to answer that. I was on the Yorktown School Board when we had to close the Farmhouse. It was no longer sound at that time for filing cabinets etc. The building was otherwise sound. We tried in vain and reached out to the Historical Society and others in Town. All we wanted was someone to take it over and preserve it. The School District was not looking to make a profit. NOBODY stepped up when it could have been saved. I was amused when it became necessary to knock it down, and then there was a an outcry. I would have voted to knock it down years ago rather than watch it rot year after year. I am glad after that experience that there are people that may be more proactive rather than reactive.
Evan Bray January 10, 2013 at 02:49 AM
I tend to side with Mr. de Laperouse. I'm too wise to get drawn into the fray, but would like to quote from Ada Louise Huxtables obituary from this week in the NYT. "'You must love a country very much to be as little satisfied with it as she,' Daniel Patrick Moynihan" I don't think anyone doubts that Mr. de Laperouse loves Yorktown and is a resident. He's written extensively on the subject here and has the background to speak to history. Not sure how pertinent the quote is, but it is--kind of; right? Good quote, either way.
Evan Bray January 10, 2013 at 02:50 AM
"Huxtable's"
Evan Bray January 10, 2013 at 03:00 AM
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/08/arts/design/ada-louise-huxtable-architecture-critic-dies-at-91.html?ref=obituaries&_r=0
Evan Bray January 10, 2013 at 03:02 AM
Great insight, Bob.
Bob Rohr January 10, 2013 at 03:05 AM
No fray Evan other than Francis. We should support this preservation move. I was disappointed when nobody stepped up. How can you ask the Town to be interested if the residents showed no interest. At the end of my street is the Andre House. It is protected because someone took the time to get it protected. Spent many nice evenings there and I hope people 100 years from now enjoy evenings there also.

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