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If You Build It, Who Will Clean It? – Staffing Problems at NYSOPRHP


The annual Parks Advocacy Day was held in Albany on March 4. The program was created by Parks &Trails New York and Open Space Institute in collaboration with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. The afternoon of the advocacy day is dedicated to meeting with elected officials to present talking points known as “asks.” These “asks” tend to be funding related. The meetings with the legislators and/or their staffs also are meant as a thank you for their support.

In New York, NYSOPRHP owns 35 historic sites. As previously reported is does not operate all these sites. In some cases the operation has been transferred to a friends group or the NPS. Even when the NYSOPRHP does operate a site, there often is a friends group present as well. These friends group vary immensely in size and wealth. There is a huge disparity in what historic sites can offer depending of the existence and financial wherewithal of these groups. One of the talking points concerned funding for such groups.

As also reported in the past, this advocacy does “asks” on behalf of history sites. The result is a bifurcated picture of how NYSOPHP is doing. For example on the same March 4, 2019, a press release was issued. The following day, this article was published in my local paper:


The article touted the increase in attendance. While historic parks were mentioned in a collective sense, the article focused on the other types of parks: scenic and recreational. In some ways, the emphasis is legitimate. Niagara Falls and Jones Beach combined had about 18 million of the 74 million total attendance according to an online chart not in the printed copy. Other Long Island beach parks added another 7+ million. There were no historic sites in top ten listing.

So all things considered, it is understandable why Parks Advocacy Day ignores or minimizes history. There was a talking point on funding for the Connect Kids to Parks Field Trip Grant Program that funds transportation costs to visit sites. These sites could be an historic site.  It is unclear how much of the program is used for nature/science trips versus history trips.

However, something different happened this year. In the presentations prior to the legislative visits, Lucy Rockefeller Waletzky, chair, State Council of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation spoke. The NYSOPRHP website defines the State Council as follows:

The State Council of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation consists of the Commissioner of State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation, Chairs of the eleven Regional Parks Commissions (including a representative of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission), and Chair of the State Board of Historic Preservation. The Regional Commissions are charged with acting as a central advisory body on all matters affecting parks, recreation and historic preservation within their respective regions, with particular focus on the operations of the State Parks and Historic Sites.

Lucy Waletzky chairs the Taconic region where I live as well as the statewide group. In her talk to the advocacy group she noted a problem: there was an understaffing challenge which was not being met. While attendance had increased 28%, staff had decreased 22% in the past seven years. Her primary concern was on the staffing of the recreational and scenic parks: the decrease in lifeguards, park maintenance, police, and rangers meant a decrease in hours at pools, an increase in trash, and an increase in unacceptable behavior. We had been hearing about visitor experience in the number 1 priority but the staffing shortages was undermining that experience.

In addition, there was a shortage of what she called trade and skill people. She was referring specifically to electricians, painters, and carpenters. There were delays in routine maintenance. So while the big picture of capital expenditures in the hundreds of millions annually garners the press attention, the little things were being overlooked, especially the staff who have to operate the sites: if you build it, who will clean it/repair it/police it, etc.. Although she did not mention historic sites, there happened to be someone in the audience from an historic site who raised that issue regarding historic sites as well. The needs of historic sites are slightly different than those of a recreational site. You cannot just use any wall paper and the carpentry work that needs to be done is specialized.

After the talks, I spoke with Lucy in more detail about this issue relating to historic sites (she reads these blogs). The critical points are as follows:

1. Historic sites have needs for trade skills as well.

2. Historic sites also have need for history craft skills. Sometimes the work which needs to be done involves more than what a standard trade skills person can do. Any staffing assessment survey should take into account the specialized needs of historic sites. During the advocacy day the Taconic group met with State Legislator Didi Barret who is a strong proponent of the Parks in her district. I took the opportunity to follow up on her “Our Heritage/Our Future” initiative. This effort finally came through with a program at Dutchess BOCES and Dutchess Community College to train the next generation of tradespeople and skilled artisans to restore and preserve state historic sites as well as private buildings. Ironically, we have a situation here where a legislator is looking for an advocacy group to help her promote legislation for ongoing job-training in these skills. We don’t want tourists to confuse state historic sites with fix it-uppers.

3. The Peebles Island staffing also should be factored into any staffing assessment survey. The people there hold collections, curate state collections, conduct archaeological surveys and excavate. While I do not have the numbers, I wouldn’t be surprised if the staff level there experienced the same decline as in the recreational and scenic sites.

Last month, during the advocacy for historic preservation, there was mention of the staffing at Peebles Island. The mention was restricted to the staff needed to operate the state and federal registers when people apply for such designations for their sites. It did not address the remaining functions of the support staff at Peebles Island.

4. One final thought is a bill that has been kicking around for several years by Senator Jose Serrano and Assemblywoman Arlene Gunther called Arts and Cultural Districts. The bill like the state heritage areas and paths through history has no funding. In part, it is designed to promote tourism. The criteria and guidelines for becoming such a district would need to be developed but it at least raises the opportunity of promoting cultural heritage tourism.  They have been trying for passage since at least the 2016 session through the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks, and Recreation.

Before concluding, I would like to remind people of two other shortcomings. In 2017, I did a series on Imperiled Promise, an NPS-commissioned study on the state of history within the NPS. In the blogs, I noted that many of the shortcomings reported in the NPS study also apply to NYSOPRHP. It’s not enough to have sufficient staff if they are not being trained for their position.

Does the NYSOPRHP history staff have access to academic history materials such as journals and books? – Couldn’t they all be given access through SUNY or some history-oriented college?

Is the history staff given time off to attend history conferences both regional and national, relevant to their area?

Does the history staff within the NYSOPRHP ever meet?

Once upon a time, the recreation and scenic parks and the historic sites had different reporting lines within the state bureaucracy. Now they are combined. Even though the attendance numbers at historic sites will never match Niagara Falls and Jones Beach, the historic sites and support staff at Peebles Island should not be treated as an overlooked step-child.

If there were a history advocacy day then these are the kind of talking points which could be raised related to NYSOPRHP. One could also add the funding levels in the REDC process as well. But there is no history advocacy day. No one advocates for the state historic sites or the state support staff for history.


For the history community, one of the most important sources of REDC funding has been the New York State Office of Parks and Historic Preservation. The description of grants opportunities is provided here:

The Environmental Protection Fund Grants Program (EPF) provides matching grants on a competitive basis for the acquisition, planning, and development of parks, historic properties, and heritage areas located within the physical boundaries of the State of New York. Parks is for the acquisition, development and planning of parks and recreational facilities to preserve, rehabilitate or restore lands, waters or structures for park, recreation or conservation purposes and for structural assessments and/or planning for such projects. Historic Preservation is to acquire, improve, protect, preserve, rehabilitate or restore properties listed on the State or National Register of Historic Places and for structural assessments and/or planning for such projects. Heritage Areas is for projects to acquire, preserve, rehabilitate or restore lands, waters or structures identified in the approved management plans for Heritage Areas designated under section 35.03 of the Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Law, and for structural assessments or planning for such projects. Up to $19.5 million

As previously noted, NYSOPRHP is primarily a parks oriented organization. Awards related to parks, recreation, and playgrounds are not included in the awards listed below. The secondary status of historic sites also can be seen in the advocacy days. In Historic Preservation advocacy day last month, the “ask” was to maintain the NYSOPRHP staff dedicated to the state and federal historic register programs…but not to the preservation staff at Peebles Island. Similarly on Parks advocacy day (March 4), the emphasis is on the parks and not the historic sites.

With that being said, NYSOPRHP still is a major source of funding for the history community. The 2018 awards in this area are listed here by state region and county. Not all counties have REDC history-related awards. Whether that is because none were submitted or none of the applications were accepted cannot be determined from this list. The awards tend to be site-specific and may be to county, municipal, or private organizations. Ironically, even the Preservation League of New York received an award to help preserve its own office in Albany.

Albany: City of Albany
Lincoln Park Pool Design Project
The City of Albany will design, plan and permit the total replacement of the historic Lincoln Pool. The new pool will bring back to life the City’s 1930 historic resource. This pool is a recreational resource, a historic asset, and an economic driver, not only to the City, but the whole Capital Region.
OPRHP PKS P $262,500

Albany: Preservation League of New York State
Rehabilitation of 44 Central Avenue
The Preservation League of NYS will address structural deterioration, water infiltration, and areas of damaged and missing exterior brick masonry at its historic headquarters building. The work will also include making the first floor meeting space accessible to wheelchairs to allow greater public access.
OPRHP HP D $250,000

Columbia: Village of Chatham
Tracy Memorial Village Hall Roof Restoration
The Village of Chatham will restore and repair the roof and cupola of the Tracy Memorial Village Hall, an archetypal 1913 Classical Revival municipal building, on Main Street.
OPRHP HP D $200,000

Cayuga: Aurora Masonic Center
Aurora Masonic Center Preservation
The Aurora Masonic Center will complete a Historic Structure Report, a Drainage Study, Archeological Survey and develop a Preservation Plan and Architectural Design. The construction phase will preserve and restore the facade of the historic Royal Arch Chapter Hall.
OPRHP HP D $168,525

Cayuga: Cayuga Museum of History and Art
Cayuga Museum Case Laboratory Comprehensive Rehabilitation
The Cayuga Museum of History and Art will conduct structural and archaeological investigations, develop design solutions for two decades of on-site water infiltration issues, and complete construction documents to rehabilitate and mitigate deficiencies at the Case Research Laboratory. This work will address deterioration and safety concerns.
OPRHP HP P $53,700

Livingston: Village of Avon
Five Arch Bridge Restoration
The Village of Avon will complete the stabilization and restoration of the historic Five Arch Bridge in order to prevent further deterioration and allow future generations to enjoy this unique structure.
OPRHP HP D $200,000

Monroe: Village of Fairport
Fairport Bicentennial Canal Gateway Project
The Village of Fairport will create an ADA accessible formalized waterfront park which celebrates the Erie Canal’s and Village’s history and improves water access for all users. The project will enhance the existing docks, kayak launch, and boat ramp along the north bank of the Erie Canal, add comfort amenities and signage, and will improve the safety of Erie Canal Trail bicyclist along Liftbridge Lane West.
OPRHP PKS D $300,000

Ontario: City of Geneva
Parrott Hall Stabilization and Remediation
The City of Geneva, in collaboration with the Parrott Hall Coalition, will perform stabilization, urgent repairs, and remediation of historic Parrott Hall to prevent further deterioration, and to ready the property for complete rehabilitation and reuse.
OPRHP HP D $400,000

Ontario: Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park
Sonnenberg Gardens Visitor Center Phase One
Sonnenberg Gardens, Inc. has secured the property at 145 Charlotte street, part of the original Thompson estate, for a new entrance and visitor center with its nonprofit offices and collection storage. New parking and maintenance facility is part of the proposed phase 1 upgrades.
OPRHP PKS D $500,000

Nassau: Old Westbury Gardens, Inc.
Westbury House Roof Restoration Phase 2
Old Westbury Gardens, Inc. will complete Phase 2 of the roof restoration at Westbury House, the only Collyweston slate roof in the United States, and the terra-cotta cornice ensuring the architectural integrity of the 1906 mansion and eliminating hazardous conditions to visitors and staff.
OPRHP HP D $500,000

Nassau: Roslyn Landmark Society
Roslyn Grist Mill Restoration
The Roslyn Landmark Society will continue the restoration of the Robeson-Williams Grist Mill (Roslyn
Grist Mill) situated in the middle of the Village of Roslyn. Once restored it will provide educational and archival opportunities for the Village of Roslyn and surrounding communities.
OPRHP HP D $500,000

Suffolk: The Caumsett Foundation, Inc.
Park Entrance Improvements
The Caumsett Foundation will improve the primary access to Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve by widening the road and making drainage improvements in order to provide safer two-way traffic as well as a new path for pedestrians and bikes.
OPRHP PKS D $500,000

Dutchess: Bard College
Montgomery Place Mansion Restoration Project
Bard College will restore the integrity and resiliency of the exterior of the Montgomery Place Mansion, a national Historic Landmark.
OPRHP HP D $300,000

Dutchess, Ulster: The Poughkeepsie- Highland Railroad Bridge Company, Inc.
Walkway Over the Hudson’s Lighting Project
The Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge Company, Inc will plan and design sustainable, LED lighting for the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park. This project will increase safety and security measures, the hours the Park is open to the public, and opportunities for nighttime programming. Design will include remote-controlled, color-changing lights, intended to be powered by alternative energy sources.
OPRHP PKS P $100,000

Ulster: Hudson River Maritime Museum
Rondout Riverport Phase 2
The Hudson River Maritime Museum will enhance the visitor experience at the Riverport by making walkway improvements, improving energy efficiencies, adding solar capacity, improving the museum facade, grounds and streetscape and integrating connections to the Kingston Greenline and Empire State Trail.
OPRHP HAS D $430,000

Ulster: Mohonk Preserve, Inc.
Lenape Lane Bridge Replacement
Mohonk Preserve will replace the 92 year-old Lenape Lane Bridge, which is a key historic carriage road connection that crosses Butterville Road in New Paltz located near the base of the Shawangunk Ridge. The bridge is also part of the broader Mohonk Preserve Foothills Project and will complement a new trailhead at the picturesque Testimonial Gateway, providing another much needed access point for the more than 200,000 people who visit the Preserve each year.
OPRHP PKS D $181,500

Westchester: Untermyer Gardens Conservancy, Inc.
Untermyer Gardens Pool Restoration Planning Project
The Untermyer Gardens Conservancy will hire a landscape architect to create design and construction documents for the rehabilitation of the historic pool at Untermyer Park and Gardens as a shallow water-filled reflecting pool. The goal is to leave the existing pool floor and walls in place while the pool is lined and infilled to a reduced depth, a concrete pad poured, and reproduction mosaic tile installed.
OPRHP HP P $50,000

Westchester: Westchester County Playland Carousel Restoration
Westchester County will reconstruct the fire damaged 1928 Carousel building at the National Historic
Landmark Playland Park in Rye. The unique octagonal building with a lamella roof houses the treasured 1915 Grand Carousel, one of only four in existence featuring hand-carved horses and chariots by famed carousel maker Charles Carmel.
OPRHP HP D $450,000

Herkimer: Friends of Historic Herkimer County
Historic Herkimer Jail Preservation Tourism Development Project
Friends of Historic Herkimer County will restore and preserve the deteriorated limestone walls of the original 1834 Herkimer County Jail in Downtown Herkimer. The Project will enable the Friends to open currently closed parts of the Jail for tours and interpretation of the colorful people who spent time “in jail” between the 1830s and 1970s, bringing more tourists and residents to the historic Four Corners in Downtown Herkimer.
OPRHP HP D $239,500

Schoharie: Klinkhart Hall Arts Center, Inc.
Klinkhart Hall Stabilization
Klinkhart Hall Arts Center, Inc. will complete renovations of the Klinkhart Hall building in the Village of Sharon Springs to allow for the reuse of the vacant building which once served the community. The renovation of this historical icon will stimulate the expansion of a growing artistic community and attract tourism to the region. The structure will serve as a gallery, theatre and community center allowing for the expansion of the existing public arts programs.
OPRHP HP D $500,000

New York: Fourth Universalist Society in the City of New York Roof Replacement
The Fourth Universalist Society in the City of New York will restore its landmark 1898 building by reintroducing slate roofs, rehabilitating flat roofs and drainage systems, conserving masonry wall and roof elements, and reconstructing its tower floor. This project will revitalize architect William Appleton Potter’s masterpiece of Perpendicular Gothic design, thus securing its place as a community anchor on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
OPRHP HP D $500,000

New York: Protestant Episcopal Church of Saint Peter in the City of New York
St. Peter’s Rectory Restoration
The Protestant Episcopal Church of Saint Peter will replace the roof and restore the exterior masonry facades, chimneys and windows of its Rectory, constructed as the original church building built in 1831 on land donated by Clement Clark Moore, the celebrated author of “Twas the Night Before Christmas”. The building will continue in use as a community center providing neighborhood services.
OPRHP HP D $500,000

Franklin: Historic Saranac Lake
Trudeau Building Rehabilitation
Historic Saranac Lake will acquire and restore the former home and medical office of Dr. E. L. Trudeau at 118 Main Street, adjacent to the existing Saranac Laboratory Museum. The historic Trudeau Building will open as a museum, allowing the public to experience this important historic space. This project will establish a museum campus next to the Hotel Saranac that will drive arts and culture tourism to the North Country region.
OPRHP HP D $500,000

Jefferson: Jefferson County Historical Society
Paddock Mansion Roof Replacement
The Jefferson County Historical Society will replace the roof on the Paddock to restore the look of the building when it was completed in 1878. OPRHP HP D $500,000

Broome: City of Binghamton
Stone Opera House and Strand Theater Historic Structure Reports
Historic Structure Reports will be prepared for the Strand Theater and Stone Opera House, architectural icons in Binghamton’s historic commercial Downtown core, to help ensure their survival and revitalization, paving the way for reinvestment and generation of economic activity Downtown.
OPRHP HP P $75,000

Broome: Union Presbyterian Church – Riverside Cemetery
Riverside Cemetery Historic Restoration
The Riverside Cemetery, located in Endicott, will restore its historical monuments including monument and foundation restoration of Revolutionary & Civil War era graves, foundation repair of headstones, and repair, repainting and installation of solar lighting at the Veteran’s area flagpole.
OPRHP HP P $52,750

Chemung: American Battlefield Trust
Coldiron Tract at the Newtown Battlefield
American Battlefield Trust will to preserve the 68-acre Coldiron Tract on the Newtown Battlefield, located adjacent to the Newtown Battlefield State Park.
OPRHP HP A $100,000

Tioga: Village of Newark Valley
Municipal Building Window Restoration
The Village of Newark Valley will restore all windows in the Municipal Building. The windows will be removed, restored and reinstalled in fully operable condition.
OPRHP HAS D $100,000

Tompkins: Historic Ithaca, Inc.
Cascadilla Boathouse Restoration
Historic Ithaca, in partnership with the City of Ithaca, will restore the exterior of the Cascadilla Boathouse , a c. 1896 building in Stewart Park, Ithaca, New York to prevent further deterioration. The National Registerlisted boathouse, originally built for that purpose, is still in use today. This project will make the building weathertight and attractive, and restore its Shingle-Style architectural elements.
OPRHP HP D $367,172

Chautauqua: St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Bell Tower and Front Porch Stabilization
St. Luke’s Church of Jamestown will complete a stabilization and restoration of two focal elements of its 1894 building, the 95 foot bell tower (containing a full octave carillon) and the gabbled front porch and staircase on Main Street. The completed restoration will preserve a cultural institution open to the community, with a fully water and weatherproof building that removes the potential life safety hazards of key features at the façade of the building.
OPRHP HP D $500,000

Erie: Buffalo Niagara Freedom Station Coalition, Inc.
Michigan Street Baptist Church Stabilization
The Buffalo Niagara Freedom Station Coalition will address urgent structural deficiencies and crucial systems upgrades of the Historic Michigan Street Baptist Church.
OPRHP HAS D $375,000

Erie: Springville Center for the Arts, Inc.
First Baptist Church Parsonage Acquisition
Springville Center for the Arts will acquire the historic Baptist Parsonage to create permanent artist housing in downtown Springville, reunite all of the properties in the First Baptist Church National Register Listing, and prepare for the restoration of the building.
OPRHP HP A $45,978

Erie: Town of Eden
Bley Street Mill Park Study
The Town of Eden will develop a feasibility study for the preservation and adaptive reuse of Croop’s
Mill on Bley Street along Eighteen Mile Creek. The study aims to identify necessary measures to stabilize the structures, capitalize on its heritage, develop means for access to the Creek, expand economic opportunities through recreation and tourism, and provide an educational connection to agriculture.
OPRHP PKS P $20,000

Niagara: Carousel Society of the Niagara Frontier
Allan Herschell Complex Storage Building
The Carousel Society of the Niagara Frontier will construct a new building on the site of the 1920’s
Storage Building in order to exhibit band organ artifacts. Foundation repairs will also be made to the Children’s Gallery.
OPRHP HAS D $89,743


On March 5, I participated in Park Advocacy Day in Albany. The event was organized by Parks & Trails New York. As you might suspect, even though the term “Historic Preservation” is contained within the name NYSOPRHP, the state organization also is responsible for 35 historic sites as was mentioned several times during the course of the presentations. That being said, I don’t recall any specific site being mentioned nor any program or advocacy geared towards those sites. The advocacy day was for parks and trails and also open spaces (Open Space Institute was a cosponsor).

In the language of the sessions, what are the takeaways from this advocacy as it relates to the history community?


In this instance, an advocacy group headquartered in Albany organized a day of meetings between park advocates from around the state and legislators to discuss specific “asks” related to the upcoming budget. I think the free registration was about 75 people but the actual turnout may have been less.

The registrants arrange themselves by Park regions which are different from REDC and I LoveNY regions. I am in the Taconic group for east of the Hudson and not in the Hudson Valley or Lower Hudson Valley region which encompasses both sides of the river. There is a team leader. In the past the person has been from Scenic Hudson which has its own parks lobbying effort for this region; this time the person was from Parks & Trails while Scenic Hudson led the Palisades group west of the Hudson. There were 12 people listed for our group with three no-shows and two additions from Walkway over the Hudson which encompasses both sides of the river. Two of the people were from Open Space Institute as representatives from that organization were scattered among the 11 regions. NYSOPRHP also has 11 regional park commissions and had scheduled a meeting with the commissioners from each region for the following day. I don’t know if those meetings are open to the public or not. In our group, we had a commissioner for the Taconic region.

In the afternoon, we me with eight legislators in a series a rapid sessions. By legislator, this normally means a member of the legislator’s staff. The legislators included representatives from both the Senate and the Assembly. Parks & Trails schedules the meetings. They generally last about 15 minutes. As it turns out, a lot can be presented in 15 minutes. Needless to say, we were not the only ones wandering around the corridors of the legislative buildings. Other lobbying groups were easily identified by their shirts, bags, or uniforms. We had green scarfs. Some groups like teachers and libraries, both chartered by the Education Department as are historical societies and museums, turn out in huge numbers. They can overwhelm the place.

The individual sessions can be very cut and dry. Each session started with the team leader identifying the “asks.” In our case, the process was pretty straightforward. We were asking for items already in the budget and which these elected officials had supported in the past. It’s not like guns, abortions, or immigrants. Two of the asks directly related to historic sites although not couched in those terms.

One program with a $500,000 statewide budget is to support local Friends groups within the NYSOPRHP system. Previously, I have written a blog about “Friends with Benefits,” the private organizations that take up the slack for what the state does not do at NYSOPRHP historic sites. I wrote about some individual historic sites. Of course, not all historic sites have friends groups and the financial resources of these groups varies. This program is open to the friends groups of any NYSOPRHP and is not limited to the 35 historic sites.

A second program is called “Connecting Kids to Parks.” It has a $1 million budget to pay up to $1000 for the field trip costs to visit NYSOPRHP sites. In a way, it is somewhat like what the Museum Education Act proposed by MANY will do for any museum site. Actually, the listing of sites eligible for funding of school visits isn’t limited to an NYSOPRHP location.  For example, one history site is listed: the Chittenango Landing Canal Museum. A few non-state nature sites are included: Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center, Montezuma Audubon Center, and Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary. While these are all legitimate venues, one doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to recognize that they are included in the NYS Connecting Kids to Parks program because of their political juice.


The absence of history sites was manifest in the morning presentations. One handout, legislator, and speaker after another extolled the benefits of the NYS parks system to the economy of the state and the wellbeing of its citizens. I do not intend to dispute anything that was said, only note the absence of the historic sites in the discussions.

For example, one major highlight is the $900 million capitalization program for 2015-2020. A handout identified 16 items in the 2017 capital budget. All were recreational and nature oriented. Perhaps the list was compiled with this particular audience in mind and one wonders about the capital funding for historic sites.

The situation was made clear in the presentation by Rose Harvey, the Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The first item she mentioned was Jones Beach. The second place she discussed was Niagara Falls. When she came to the end of her talk she said “Finally…” and mentioned one history-related item – the expiring tax credit for historic preservation. This item has been a major advocacy item for the preservation groups and will not be discussed here (note – there is a preservation conference in Albany in April). Perhaps at a different conference Rose would have spoken more about the state of the 35 New York State history sites for which she is responsible. Which conference? And what are the asks of her in that capacity?

The next day, New York State and Parks & Trails New York has announced $450,000 in state grants to 21 organizations dedicated to the stewardship and promotion of New York State parks, historic sites and public lands. Parks & Trails administers a funding stream from the Environmental Protection Fund separate from the REDC funding. As part of the packet attendees received there was a list of the awardees from 2015 and 2016. Examining the lists is of interest. I will focus only on the history-related ones from 2017 and 2016 as best I can determine them. In any event, I suspect many people in the history community are not aware of this funding source and should investigate it. Contact Sarah Braymer at or check out the website.

2017 [from a press release]

Capital Region

Friends of Clermont: $4,000 to create a planned giving program to raise funds to provide more programs, including marketing materials, a planned giving and named endowment policy, and training for the board of trustees.

The Friends of U.S. Grant Cottage: $19,500 to provide critical administrative support and focus on acquiring and maintaining sustainable income sources for the organization.

Central Region

Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum: $20,400 to create a new education program entitled “The Story of the Water STEM Program: Erie Canal Connections.” The program will allow the museum to research water systems related to the Erie Canal and create STEM educational programming. Additional components of the new STEM program will be a summer STEM camp, and a “Story of the Water” series of talks. The new education program will enable visitors to explore how humans impact the canal water system today.

Finger Lakes Region

Friends of Ganondagan: $50,000 to fund the restoration and replacement of the Seneca Bark Longhouse roof using new, “flexbark/Elm Bark” roofing panels. The exiting roof is leaking and the new roof is necessary and critical to ensure the viability of the Seneca Bark Longhouse structure, and safety of the artifacts, reproductions, and interpretive materials housed within.

Long Island Region

Mid-Hudson Region

Friends of Mills Mansion: $48,000 to fund the purchase of historically-accurate, custom-made fabric, trim, and as well as decorative trim, tie-backs and hanging hardware needed to reproduce the historic draperies in Staatsburgh’s formal dining room. These will replace the existing drapes that have been hanging for over 100 years and are in very poor condition.

Friends of The Old Croton Aqueduct: $27,200 to cover the cost of a coordinator to support the needs of the recently opened Keeper’s House Education and Visitor Center. The coordinator will develop and manage the volunteer docent program, including recruiting new volunteers to assist with all the activities at the Center and improve the visitor’s experience.

Mohawk Valley Region

Friends of Johnson Hall: $9,905 for of a historic floor cloth, a “painted carpet” for the Front Hallway of Johnson Hall State Historic Site. This reproduction floor cloth will help protect the original wooden floor from heavy wear by visitors, and will complete the restoration of the decorative finishes on the first floor of this site. Funds will also be used to produce a detailed color booklet, postcards and a website update to summarize all the restorations projects that have been competed or are underway.

New York City Region

North Country Region

Western New York Region

2016 [from a handout]

Central Region – $34, 231

Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum $5,798 for an education/visitor experience intern to study, document, research and host tours, produce a general Chittenango Landing tour, and create materials and videos for PR and museum education

Finger Lakes Region – $37,364

Friends of Ganondagan $19,239 to hire a program assistant to develop interpretive programming and events that feature Iroquois White Corn from an agricultural, traditional and food perspective

Genesee Region – $41,310

Long Island Region – $67,535

Friends of Connetquot $17,535 to develop new educational programs for the Mill Museum, videos, and brochures to complement the completion of the Nicol Grist Mill restoration

Walt Whitman Birthplace Association $25,000 to modernize exhibit space

New York City Region – $25,000

Niagara Region – $25,000

Saratoga/Capital Region – $78,000

Friends of Schuyler Mansion $30,000 for two reproduction Brussels carpets

John Brown Lives – $48,000 to hire the organization’s first paid employee for a part-time position to support the John Brown Farm State Historic Site

Taconic Region- $107,085

Friends of Philpse Manor Hall $14,875 to purchase audio-visual equipment and hire consultants for an oral history project at Philipse Manor State Historic Site

Thousand Islands Region – $39,475

Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum is an obvious favorite for grants as with “Connecting Kids.” It also was the recipient of a $45,625 grant in 2015 to upgrade the position of Executive Director from part-time to full-time to better serve the educational needs of the area and boost tourism. How many history organizations would love to have a grant like that?! Ironically that Executive Director recently left the position for one in the Oneida Community Mansion House. I am unable to determine from the website if she has been replaced.

I conclude this post with three takeaways:

  1. Parks & Trail New York provides one model for history community to emulate for a statewide organization and advocacy.
  2. Historic preservation is area worth investigating for its own organizations and advocacy efforts.
  3. History community asks for NYSOPRHP need to be developed following an analysis of what it is doing and should be doing.