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Cobblestone Museum has on-line petition to oppose Dollar General

Photo by Tom Rivers: The cobblestone schoolhouse was built in 1849 and is part of the Cobblestone Museum campus that has declared a National Historic Landmark, the only historic site in Orleans County with such designation from the U.S. Department of the Interior.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 August 2018 at 5:41 pm

Former director asks Gaines for one-year moratorium on new projects in Historic District

GAINES – The Cobblestone Museum is stepping up its efforts to send a message to Gaines town officials and the developer for a new Dollar General that a new store shouldn’t be built in the historic district on Ridge Road, which includes several cobblestone buildings from the 1830s to 1850s.

The museum has already collected 300 petitions with people opposing construction of a new Dollar General across Route 104 from a cobblestone schoolhouse that was built in 1849. That schoolhouse is part of the museum’s campus that has been declared a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1993.

“Please help keep our Historic District intact! Say no to Dollar General in their request to build a store across the street from the National Historic Landmark Cobblestone Schoolhouse.” That is what a new on-line petition states from the Cobblestone Museum. (Click here to see the petition.)

Museum Director Doug Farley and Bill Lattin, the retired director, attended Monday’s Town Board meeting to state their opposition to the Dollar General in the historic district. Lattin, a former Gaines town supervisor, asked the board to consider a one-year moratorium on new construction in the historic district.

The state agency that works with communities to help preserve historic sites across New York last week sent a letter to the Town of Gaines asking that an alternative site for the store be found.

“It is our opinion that the construction of a generic retail building at this location will significantly alter the District 5 Schoolhouse’s visual environment and setting,” Sloane Bullough, Historic Sites Restoration Coordinator for the NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, wrote on Aug. 9 to Michael Grabowski, chairman of the Gaines Zoning Board of Appeals which is reviewing the project.

“The introduction of a modern generic commercial store with its associated 45 space parking and service areas will greatly impact the historic character of the National Landmark school as well as the two other nearby Landmarked cobblestone buildings.”

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State agency urges Gaines, developer to find alternative site for Dollar General

File photo by Tom Rivers: The interior of the schoolhouse in Gaines remains largely unchanged from when the school was closed in the 1950s. It was a public schoolhouse for more than a century.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 August 2018 at 6:19 pm

Constructing ‘generic modern store’ across from historic schoolhouse would ‘significantly alter’ visual environment and setting

GAINES – The state agency that works with communities to help preserve historic sites across New York is asking the Town of Gaines and the developer of a proposed Dollar General to find an alternative site for the store so it isn’t in a historic district.

Dollar General wants to build a new store directly across from the District 5 Schoolhouse, a cobblestone building that was built in 1849. That schoolhouse, and the nearby Ward House and Universalist Church were named National Historic Landmarks in 1993.

“This designation is the highest recognition that the United State Department of Interior can bestow on a property or district in our country,” Sloane Bullough, Historic Sites Restoration Coordinator for the NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, wrote on Aug. 9 to Michael Grabowski, chairman of the Gaines Zoning Board of Appeals which is reviewing the project. (Click here to see the letter.)

There are only 262 sites in New York that have been designated as National Historic Landmarks and less than 3,000 nationwide, Bullough said.

“Landmark designation recognizes the exemplary historic or architectural significant a property may have in the history of the nation,” she said in her letter. “The schoolhouse, which was constructed in 1849, is an exceptional example of both the Greek Revival Style and the unique cobblestone method of construction, which is almost exclusively found in the central-eastern part of New York.”

NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation urges the town and developer to find an alternative site away from the historic district for the new store.

“It is our opinion that the construction of a generic retail building at this location will significantly alter the District 5 Schoolhouse’s visual environment and setting,” Bullough said. “The introduction of a modern generic commercial store with its associated 45 space parking and service areas will greatly impact the historic character of the National Landmark school as well as the two other nearby Landmarked cobblestone buildings.”

If no alternative can be found, Bullough said the site should be redesigned to have less of a visual impact. That could include having the parking lot on the side of the building instead of in front with the number of parking spaces pared down to the minimum.

“A side parking lot could be visually screened to lessen the project’s visual impact from the schoolhouse and the overflow parking in the rear for employees and customers could be installed to reduce the size of the parking lot that is visible from the street,” she wrote in her letter to the town.

State Parks would also like to see “a strong vegetative buffer be planted to visually screen the parking lot and building from the road.”

The buffer could include mixture of deciduous and coniferous indigenous trees and shrubs.

The trees should be planted in a staggered pattern and not in rows, she said.

“We understand that the developer and the Town of Gaines have already negotiated a low-lying sign, which is a good beginning for minimizing impact to the historic school and adjacent properties,” Bullough said.

The Cobblestone Museum is opposing the project, saying it would hurt the character of the historic district. So far 250 people have signed petitions at the museum, opposing the store across from the schoolhouse.

Eight municipal historians have also written to oppose the location of the Dollar General. Click here to see their letter to the editor – “Historians in Orleans County say a Dollar General would destroy tenor of historic Gaines” – that was published July 11.

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Beardsley Creek in Gaines, an important spot for settlers, now has a sign

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 July 2018 at 6:18 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

GAINES – A new wooden sign for Beardsley Creek on Route 104 in Gaines was unveiled today. The sign is by the home of Robert Bruning. He has lived there for 40 years. The house was built in the 1830s by John Anderson, a Revolutionary War soldier who is buried at Gaines Cemetery, behind the Gaines Congregational Church on Route 104.

Orleans County Historian Matt Ballard removes the cover for the sign.

Local dignitaries were present for the sign’s dedication. This group includes, from left: Jim Bonafini, president of the Cobblestone Society & Museum and maker of the sign; Assemblyman Steve Hawley; Gaines Town Historian Adrienne Kirby; Al Capurso, president of the Orleans County Historical Association and coordinator of the sign effort; Orleans County Historian Matt Ballard; homeowner Robert Bruning; and Lynne Johnson, chairwoman of the Orleans County Legislature.

Al Capurso addresses the crowd at the sign dedication. The sign is located west of Route 98, and east of Eagle Harbor Road. This is third sign for the creeks near the historic district in Gaines. Capurso wanted to recognize the Beardsley Creek’s importance, especially to pioneer residents. He also wanted to highlight the historic area of Ridge Road with the signs at Proctor Brook, Gilbert Creek and now Beardsley Creek.

Proctor Brook passes through the Cobblestone Museum. Gilbert Creek is next to the Gaines Carlton Community Church, east of Route 98.

Beardsley Creek passes through a culvert under Ridge Road.

Capurso, a former Gaines town historian, believed the creek was named for the Levi Beardsley family who settled in Carlton in 1827. Born in Connecticut in 1777, Mr. Beardsley died on his homestead in 1867 at age 90.

But additional research showed there was an earlier Beardsley in the area. Elizabeth Hoffman, the Carlton town historian, tipped Ballard off that Selah Beardsley was the first Beardsley in the area.

Ballard learned that Selah Beardsley was one of eight men who signed a contract with the Holland Land Purchase in September 1810. The eight men from Massachusetts shared their labor and resources in acquiring land and settling in Carlton.

Adrienne Kirby, the town historian, said the sign highlights an important local resource.

Capurso said today that Selah Beardsley was the original Beardsley in the area.

“It shows you that history is always revealing itself,” he said.

Adrienne Kirby, the Gaines town historian, said the new sign is important in highlighting a local resource that is unique to Gaines.

“I am very pleased to participate in the unveiling of this sign, which has two messages for the world — Beardsley Creek runs through here, and This Place Matters!” she said.

“We live in an age where efficiency and convenience are prized above all else,” she said. “This attitude has led to a homogenization of the landscape. Strip malls and housing tracts all look the same no matter what state of the union you are in. In the face of this, local history cries, ‘This Place Matters.’ Local history values the individual and uniqueness of our communities. We celebrate the accomplishments of those who came before us. We cherish what’s one of kind. Local history reminds us of what we have done, that we might be either inspired or forewarned to do better in the future.”

Many of the town roads are named for early residents who cleared roads, built homes and established churches and businesses.

“It is because we enjoy the fruits of others’ labors that local history matters,” Kirby said. “As for Beardsley Creek, every single child who has lived on this creek over the past 200 years has climbed the willow trees that grace its banks, tried catching the minnows that show up in early summer, and observed the snails that reside here.”

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Gaines and Murray both have Republican primaries on Sept. 13

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 July 2018 at 5:31 pm

There will be Republican primaries on Sept. 13 in Gaines and Murray. Both towns have one-year terms up for election on the Town Board.

In Gaines, Richard DeCarlo resigned from the Town Board. Town Supervisor Joe Grube and the other board members have decided not to appoint someone to fill the position, instead leaving it to voters this fall.

Corey Black and Joseph Gangi, Jr. have both submitted petitions to run for the position. Black has been endorsed by the Gaines Republican Committee.

In Murray, Town Supervisor Bob Miller and the Town Board have been appointed Neal Valentine to fill a vacancy on the board from the recent death of Ed Bower. Valentine will be challenged in a primary by Joe Sidonio to fill the remaining year of the term.

Murray also has many primaries for members of the Murray Republican Committee. Each district will elect two members to the committee.

District 1: Ed Morgan and Michael Mele are endorsed by the committee and are challenged by Cynthia Piedimonte and Gerald Ramsey.

District 2: Mark Porter and Douglas Heath are endorsed by the committee. Anthony Peone forced a primary.

District 3: Kathleen Case and Ron Vendetti are endorsed by the committee. Kerri Neale forced a primary.

District 4: Kimberly DeFrank is endorsed by the committee. Dirk Lammes Jr. and Joe Sidonio both submitted petitions to serve as members of the Republican Committee.

District 5: Cynthia Oliver and Lynn Wood are endorsed by the committee and are challenged by Arthur Knab and Joseph Kellenberger.

District 6: Robert Miller and Glenn DeFrank are endorsed by the committee. Kellie Gregoire forced a primary.

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Sign for Beardsley Creek in Gaines to be unveiled on July 28

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 July 2018 at 9:47 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: This new sign for Beardsley Creek will be unveiled on July 28 during a ceremony in Gaines. The sign will be painted green with white letters.

GAINES – A new wooden sign for Beardsley Creek will be unveiled dring a presentation at 2 p.m. on July 28. This will be the third wooden sign for creeks on Ridge Road near Route 98.

There are signs for Proctor Brook that passes through the Cobblestone Museum and also Gilbert Creek next to the Gaines Carlton Community Church. Gilbert Creek is east of Route 98.

Beardsley Creek is west of Route 98. The sign will be unveiled at the home of Robert Bruning, the Anderson Cobblestone building on Ridge Road.

The three creeks or brooks  are all adjacent to each other and are named after the pioneer families that settled on their banks, said Al Capurso, the former Gaines town historian who is organizing the Beardsley Creek sign unveiling.

Jim Bonafini, the Cobblestone Museum president, made the wooden sign. Capurso will paint it green with white letters, like the two other signs.

Beardsley Creek is just east of Eagle Harbor Road. The sign was named after the Levi Beardsley family who settled in Carlton in 1827. Born in Connecticut in 1777, Mr. Beardsley died on his homestead in 1867 at age 90.

The public is welcome to attend the event at 2 p.m., which will include comments from local dignitaries.

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Cobblestone Museum has petitions to oppose Dollar General in historic district

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 July 2018 at 7:41 am

File photo: The Cobblestone Schoolhouse District 5 was built in 1849 and was used as a school until 1952. In 1961, it was acquired by the Cobblestone Museum.

GAINES – The Cobblestone Museum is planning to submit petitions to the Town of Gaines against a proposed Dollar General in the Commercial/Historical District on Ridge Road.

The new store could be built across from the cobblestone schoolhouse that was built in 1849. The Dollar General is eyed for what is now wooded land, east of the Route 98 intersection. That land is zoned commercial and a new store is an allowed use.

Because it is in the Commercial/Historical District, the town has more discretion for how the building should look to better blend in with the historic character of the Ridge.

The petition urges the Gaines Zoning Board of Appeals, which also functions as the Planning Board in Gaines, to do “all in their power to reject this proposal.”

Besides the Erie Canal, the Cobblestone Museum is the only National Historic Landmark in Orleans County. Putting a Dollar General across from the cobblestone school, “will mar the character and ambiance” of the Cobblestone Museum’s historic buildings on Ridge Road and also just south of Route 104 on Route 98.

The petition also states that the Town of Gaines won’t receive any direct sales tax from a Dollar General and the potential tax relief offered by the new building “will be negligible.”

Dollar General has five stores in Orleans County. The fifth Dollar General opened Dec. 18 in Kendall. That new store is 9,100 square feet. Other stores are located on West Avenue in Albion, Route 31 in Holley, Maple Ridge Road in Medina and Ridge Road in Medina (just south of Lyndonville).

“We believe that agricultural based, or locally owned businesses best reflect the character of the Town of Gaines,” the petition states. “This proposal sets a dangerous precedent for other national corporate entities to encroach on the town we love.”

Museum officials plan to submit the petitions to the Gaines Zoning Board of Appeals at the ZBA’s next meeting, 7 p.m. on Aug. 6. People are welcome to stop by the museum and sign a petition.

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Gaines approves farm labor housing at 2 sites

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 July 2018 at 7:14 am

GAINES – The Gaines Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday approved farm labor housing at two locations, although one site is for conditional approval.

Robin Root of Root Brothers Farms is applying for farm labor housing at 2325 Gaines Rd. He has eight laborers from Mexico coming in about three weeks. They will stay until mid-December on visas, working on the farm’s vegetable operations.

The house for the workers is in a residential-agriculture district. However, it isn’t included in an agricultural district, and that is one condition for farm labor housing, said Michael Grabowski, the ZBA chairman.

Root purchased the house in September and has applied to be in the ag district. There will be a public hearing July 25 in Albion by the Orleans County Legislature, to consider additions to the ag district. The Legislature is expected to vote on the additions on July 25 and then send the changes to the state for approval. Dan Strong, the Gaines code enforcement officer, said the state will likely certify additions in October.

That would be too late for Root to accommodate his work crew. Root has already upgraded the septic system and made other improvements to the property to get approval from the Health Department.

Grabowski and the ZBA decided to give him conditional approval for the labor housing. If the house isn’t included in the ag district, Root won’t be able to use it for farmworkers after this December, the ZBA determined.

Strong said there is no reason for the county or the state to deny the site in the Ag District.

“It will become part of his farm operation,” Strong told the board.

The ZBA also approved a house at 3125 Kenyonville Rd. for farm labor housing. Ken Haylett applied to have the house used for farmworkers. The house is already in the ag district.

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Gaines will consider big barn on Route 104 as site for weddings, auctions and dances

Photo by Tom Rivers: The owner of this barn on Route 104, just east of Route 98, wants to use the site to host weddings, auctions, dances and other events.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 July 2018 at 6:35 am

GAINES – The Town of Gaines Zoning Board of Appeals said the town will consider a proposal from Ray Burke, owner of Raylin Development, to have a barn on Route 104 be used for events, including weddings, auctions and dances.

The Orleans County Planning Board last week deemed a referral from Gaines incomplete about the project because the county board said Gaines needed to determine if Burke’s proposed uses were allowed in a Commercial Historic District.

Burke also owns Fairhaven Treasures. He acquired the barn next door at 14386-14398 Ridge Rd.

The town’s zoning doesn’t list Burke’s proposed uses as allowable in the Commercial Historic District. Michael Grabowski, the ZBA chairman, said during a meeting on Monday evening that other nearby businesses have similar uses as proposed by Burke.

There is a restaurant, kennel, gas station, antique shop and convenience store all close by to Burke’s barn, which is also across the road from the Cobblestone Museum, which hosts weddings at the Cobblestone Church.

Grabowski and the ZBA board deemed that Burke’s proposal was an acceptable use. That doesn’t mean he has site plan approval and a special use permit to operate the ventures out of the barn. His application still has to go before the County Planning Board for review, and then it comes back to the town.

The Planning Board doesn’t meet this month. It will look at Burke’s application in August now that the Gaines ZBA has said the proposed uses would be allowed in a Commercial Historic District.

Burke in his application said the barn would be available for the events on a seasonal basis because he uses it in the winter to store cars, boats and campers. He thinks using the site for events would fit in with the other nearby businesses.

“Our town is the center of the county at the crossroads of Route 104 and 98 and because of all the businesses on the Ridge we could become a destination for everyone travelling on these corridors,” he wrote in the application.

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Cobblestone Museum hosts seminar on repairing historic wooden windows

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 June 2018 at 2:49 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: Steve Jordan, a preservationist who focuses on restoring historic wooden windows, is leading a seminar at the Cobblestone Museum this week on window repair.

GAINES – It’s becoming a lost art, repairing windows that are more than a century old.

The Cobblestone Museum and the Landmark Society of Western New York are teaming this week to train more people in fixing old windows.

Steve Jordan, a window preservation specialist and author of The Window Sash Bible, is leading the historic wood window repair seminar. There is a four-day intensive seminar that started Tuesday and continues through Friday. Jordan and his students are removing windows from the Cobblestone Schoolhouse, originally built in 1849, and making window repairs as part of the seminar. There will also be a one-day introductory seminar on Saturday.

Jordan is teaching how to evaluate old windows, removing sashes from the window opening, remove putty, remove paint, remove glass, install new sash cords, weather strip old windows and other skills for preserving old windows.

Steve Jordan is leading in intensive window repair seminar this week at the Cobblestone Museum.

Erin Anheier, a Cobblestone Museum board member, suggested the seminar to the Landmark Society. She saw it as a way to repair windows at the Cobblestone Schoolhouse and educate more people in the task.

The Landmark Society each year presents a list of “Five to Revive,” which are typically sites in the Rochester region in need of preservation or they could be lost from disrepair.

The Landmark Society in October 2016 included “historic trades” to the Five to Revive, because the organization was concerned there weren’t enough trained professionals in carpentry, masonry, stained/decorative glass, painting, roof repair, metalwork, and window restoration with historic buildings.

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Engine power loss preceded April 24 helicopter crash in Gaines

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 May 2018 at 11:37 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Firefighters and neighbors worked to put out a fire after a helicopter crashed on April 24 in a field on Route 279.

GAINES – The National Transportation Safety Board has issued a preliminary report on the cause of an April 24 crash of an experimental helicopter in Gaines.

Alan Heard, 64, of Waterport had taken off about 2 p.m. that day in an Mosquito XE. He was seriously injured when the aircraft crashed and burst into flames in a field across from the Gaines Valley Aviation Airport on Route 279.

The NTSB reported that the helicopter experienced a partial loss of power shortly after takeoff. Mr. Heard began looking for a place to land before the engine experienced a total loss of power. “The helicopter did not have adequate main rotor rpm to autorotate and, as a result, it impacted hard upon landing,” according to a report in Rotar & Wing International.

Click here to see the article.

Mark Bennett of Waterport had been driving by and saw the helicopter preparing to take off. He pulled over to watch and saw it crash. Bennett climbed through an electric fence ran to Heard, getting him free from the wreckage. Heard’s clothes were on fire. Bennett cut Heard’s shirt off and was able to extinguish the flames.

Heard was transported to Strong Hospital in Rochester by COVA Ambulance.

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