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Stop the Demolition of the Melbourne Farmhouse

This letter was written by Yorktown resident and reader by Alan Strauber.

Regarding the defensive justification issued by Yorktown School Board President, Jackie Carbone, on the school district's irrational insistence on demolishing the historic Melbourne Farmhouse: These are the same tired arguments that many Yorktown voters and concerned New York State residents are just not buying.

The ring of truth is not there. Efforts to work with the community for an adaptive reuse of the building were limited - just asking a few local groups who responded by saying "no" is just not enough. To say that "extensive analysis" was done would be a joke if this intended destruction of a piece of our heritage was not such a serious matter. And to say that there is "not much of historical significance" shows that either Ms. Carbone is either out of touch or she is misrepresenting the facts to a public that has never received all the facts in this matter.

Additionally, speaking as someone engaged in major fundraising for historic preservation, it is clear that no real effort has yet been made to seek outside, private funding. Intention by the farmhouse's owners to preserve this important piece of our history is non-existent. This obviously would severely limit funding options.

The New York State Historic Preservation Office only signed off on demolition of the farmhouse after declaring that demolition would have an "adverse impact " on the environment (just check the records) - they have no legal enforcement power over the school district. And there was no "protest" or "meeting" called or requested the day that the school district wasted more taxpayer money to keep peaceful preservationists off of public property by calling 3 Yorktown Police patrol cars.

These were citizens who merely wanted to look at the building, even from the outside.

This consistent pattern of the misrepresentation of facts, and, at worst, deceit, on the part of Ms. Carbone, the Yorktown School Board and Superintendent Napolitano has been blatant and outrageous. Their disrespect for the voting public insults the intelligence of every voting Yorktown resident. $248,000 for the demolition of a tiny farmhouse? How mush asbestos can there really be in this little building? $1.2 million for artificial turf for athletic fields?! Are you kidding? $37.6 million for capital improvements!? What improvements?

We all know that these are outrageous sums of money that we, the voters, can not afford. How many Yorktown voters actually approved of these measures or had the opportunity to read the details? Where do these elected public officials get off being so extravagant with our money? $248k out of taxpayer pockets to destroy a tiny historic farmhouse, $248k that could be used to preserve the history of our community for our children, and our children's children.

Not to mention the numerous foundations and corporations that regularly award grants for just these types of historic sites, especially those listed on the state and national registries of historic places, as this one has been determined to be eligible for.

To paraphrase William Shakespeare, something is rotten in Yorktown. And the Melbourne Farmhouse, as of this writing, still stands. Ms. Carbone: Please call off the demolition. Have a constructive conversation with the voters of Yorktown who you and the school board are accountable to. And include the Yorktown Town Board, who also expressed a desire to have a conversation with you about options. Many of us are tired of disingenuous justifications of why the school district is intent on tearing down this irreplaceable, historic building, a building declared eligible for the state and national registries of historic places by the highest authority in New York State that makes such determinations, the New York State Historic Preservation Office.

Let's change the conversation to one of Yorktown heritage and historic preservation for future generations. Stop the demolition and let's all sit down and talk.

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