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Holley mayor thanks a big team that worked on school project

Photos by Tom Rivers: Holley Mayor Brian Sorochty welcomes a standing-room only crowd to the “Preservation Celebration” on Tuesday at the American Legion. The mayor said many people worked diligently on a $17 million renovation of the former Holley High School, which closed in 1975.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 December 2018 at 7:29 am

‘Our community never lost hope, never gave in to thoughts of demolishing it. We kept our focus on what was important to us, which is the commitment to the revitalization of the old Holley High school.’ – Holley Mayor Brian Sorochty

HOLLEY – Mayor Brian Sorochty praised the teamwork that is making a $17 million renovation of the former high school a reality.

Home Leasing of Rochester has started construction on the former school and will turn the building into 41 apartments for senior citizens, and the village offices. The project has been a long time coming, and Sorochty said residents and village officials refused to give up on the building and have it be demolished.

The mayor delivered this speech Tuesday at the American Legion during a Preservation Celebration:

Good afternoon everyone and what a great day today is, not just for the Village of Holley but also for our surrounding communities and all of Orleans County. To pull together a project of this magnitude, the revitalization of this historic landmark, takes an entire team firing on all cylinders and in constant cooperation with each other and that is what happened to make this project a reality. For being able to be a part of that effort over the last 3-plus years I am so proud and happy to be standing here before you, representing the Village of Holley. By far this is for me personally the most satisfying moment I have had as Mayor or Trustee!

I want to thank all of those that have provided support, hard work, and cooperation on behalf of our Village and this project. I am going to ask that when your name is mentioned you please stand and remain standing until the end of this list

• Governor Cuomo

• U.S. Sen. Schumer – Chris Zeltman, Schumer’s regional director

• State Sen. Robert Ortt

• State Assemblyman Steve Hawley

• NYS Homes and Community Renewal – Lenny Skrill and his team

• Empire State Development – Vinny Esposito and his team

• Finger Lakes Region Economic Development Council – CoChairs Bob Duffy and Anne Kress

• Landmark Society of Western New York – Wayne Goodman

• NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation – Daniel Mackay

• Orleans County Legislators and County Staff – Chairperson Lynne Johnson, legislators John DeFillips and Ken DeRoller

• Orleans County IDA – Jim Whipple & Paul Hendel

• County Office for Aging

• Holley Community Free Library

• Holley Central School District

• Town of Murray

• Village of Holley Board of Trustees and staff – Deputy Mayor Kevin Lynch, Trustees Connie Nenni, Jimmy DeFilipps, Rochelle Moroz, former mayor John Kenny, our staff and supervisors

• Home Leasing and Edgemere Development (Nelson Leenhouts, Kim Russell, George DeRue, John Oster, Charlie Oster and their entire team)

• And of course, all of our residents and business owners who have provided support for this endeavor.

Mayor Brian Sorochty is interviewed by the media in front of the former school on Tuesday.

Please take one moment and look around the room…while there is a lot of work and heavy lifting to do yet before the doors open…the efforts, cooperation, and support from everyone in the room this is what has taken to get to where we are today. Please give yourself a round of applause.

This has been a long journey for the Village since the building was left vacant almost 30 years ago. Our community has seen a few potential developers come and go over the years and none could quite seem to pull all of the pieces together to make this project happen. Still our community never lost hope, never gave in to thoughts of demolishing it…. we kept our focus on what was important to us, which is the commitment to the revitalization of the old Holley High school.

‘To pull together a project of this magnitude, the revitalization of this historic landmark, takes an entire team firing on all cylinders and in constant cooperation with each other and that is what happened to make this project a reality.’

The desire for this project is not just with our residents, but it has also been a focus for our past and present Village Board and mayors. All have kept the saving of this landmark as an objective. I specifically want to mention Mayor John Kenney, who is my predecessor and who was the sitting Mayor when the Landmark Society named this building as one of the Five to Revive in 2013, which I believe was the first real turning point for this project. He is heavily involved with the Murray-Holley Historical Society and I know this project was near and dear to his heart. I want to thank him as well because throughout his years as mayor he kept the hope for this project alive.

The overall commitment that our community has whether it’s from our residents or our local government towards saving this landmark is one of the main reasons we are here today.

The former school will be turned into 41 apartments for senior citizens and also the village offices for Holley.

The community support for the revitalization of this historic building was documented in our planning documents, our Village Comprehensive Plan and our Revitalization Plan (which is our step one BOA nomination study). When we held our public meetings, this was number one on our residents’ minds. The number one question was what was going to be done with old school. We finally have our answer!

These documents which indicate our community’s long-term desire for an adaptive reuse of this building, as well as affordable and accessible housing for seniors have been instrumental in the applications for funding. I am proud that the Village had the foresight to go through the process, obtain community input and prepare these documents because it has made a difference.

With all the will and desire that the Village may have, none of this could be accomplished by us alone, it takes a team. A team made up of a marriage between public and private organizations, political and community leadership at all levels of government, and a development team such as Home Leasing and Edgemere Development who are experts in their field, all striving for one goal. The people and organizations I thanked in the beginning of this speech are that team. Let me give you a couple specific examples of this:

Shortly after the Landmark Society named this building as one of the Five to Revive the Village worked closely with them, obtained a grant to create an historic district which covers the Square and this property. This also helps to strengthen these applications, helps with obtaining tax credits and other funding sources. On a side note, we have another one of our buildings listed on the 2018 Five to Revive list, the Odd Fellows Hall at 89 Public Square. We want to again thank the Landmark Society for all the great work they do and hopefully in a couple years we are back here again with another preservation celebration for the restoration of that building.

Another example is our work with Home Leasing and Edgemere Development over the last 3+ years. Throughout this entire process they have been wonderful to work with. They are consummate professionals in their commitment to this project and bringing it to life.

In looking at the renovated space and how it can be used, there are not too many tenants out there that need auditorium space along with their office space and the restoration of the auditorium was critical to the overall application. The Village being able to utilize that space and stepping up as a tenant is a key to this project.

‘Everyone has stepped up in the true spirit of cooperation and truly shown what can be done when everyone works together towards a common goal.’

The Village is excited to be their commercial anchor tenant, we will now have up to date, handicap accessible office space and a beautifully restored meeting hall.

I really cannot say enough good things about Home Leasing and Edgemere Development and their team. They are more than just experts at what they do, they are professional and I truly believe that they care about the communities they are working in and it has shown throughout this entire journey. I want to thank them again.

So, I was asked to say a few words here today, coming up with just a few words that describe, what this process has been like and what this means to our community is very difficult. The best way for me to sum this up simply is that everyone has stepped up in the true spirit of cooperation and truly shown what can be done when everyone works together towards a common goal.

It takes time, longer than most of us wanted. Some of this effort is like planting seeds and waiting for them to grow. But when you put it all together, with all the building blocks in place and get together the right team for the job, it is amazing what can be accomplished.

On behalf of the Village of Holley I want to say again thank you to everyone who made this possible, this is truly a great day for the history we are preserving and for all of the great things yet to come!


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