MALONE — The Malone Village Board of Trustees met with Mary Scharf, president of the Malone Revitalization Foundation, during a Wednesday morning workshop, to discuss a second historic district for the village.
The village’s commercial core was designated as a historic district in December 2020 by the New York State Board of Preservation, while the proposed second district would encompass a residential portion of the village.
Scharf said the Malone Chamber of Commerce and the revitalization foundation are looking for support from the village in covering the $10,000 costs for a consultant to write up a proposal for the district to be submitted to the New York State Board of Historic Preservation.
According to Scharf, the proposal is required by the state, and she believes $4,000 worth of donations can be gathered in support of the effort.
Scharf said the cost of the proposal for the village’s first historic district was covered by a grant, and was completed by Adirondack Architectural Heritage, of Keeseville, a non-profit that supports preservation efforts in the Adirondacks and the North Country, adding the Keeseville non-profit will be working on this proposal as well.
Scharf said she will apply for grant funding but with the state’s uncertain economic situation she was unsure if one would be awarded to support another historic district in the village.
“We can apply again but every time we do that we are putting it off a year. This is a very time consuming process but think of it, if we have an incentive for people to be fixing their homes, it is going to help the lumber yards, and the contractors, there are benefits to increasing the value in our village,” Scharf said.
Scharf said the new district would encompass around 100 residences, and includes homes on Park Street, 1st Street, 2nd Street, 3rd Street, 4th Street, and Prospect Street.
“There are over 100 families here that can be affected, it can improve their lives, their houses, which in turn improves the village, we need your help,” Scharf said.
Mayor Andrea Dumas said the village board would take up the funding matter at its meeting, Monday evening, explaining she wanted the village’s treasurer to have some input on the matter before moving forward.
“Not that we are tabling you or denying you because we do understand the benefit of this tax break and this benefit for the historic district,” Dumas said.
Scharf listed 11 reasons to support the designation, including tax benefits.
“It is an investment in our future,” Scharf said, “A historic district designation encourages people to buy and rehabilitate properties because they know their investment is protected over time.”
Scharf said property owners in a historic district can take advantage of tax credit programs to assist with repairs.
“What if all of the sudden you had an advantage to fixing yours up that helped your pocket, it makes it worth it,” Scharf said.
The creation of historic districts in Malone can also help to bring tourists to the area, according to Scharf.
“An aesthetically cohesive and well promoted district can be a community’s most important attraction,” Scharf said, “It is really valuable for tourism and every time we increase our tourism here we help the county, they spend money and we get sales tax, we help our local restaurants, hotels, they buy things, getting tourism here is really important.”
According to Scharf, the designation wouldn’t limit what property owners could do within the district.
“A lot of people have the concept you can only do old fashioned things but that is not true, you can put a whole new kitchen in, you can do all kinds of things inside, you can do windows, maybe you need a new furnace, all of these things as long as you get it pre-approved, qualify,” Scharf said, adding improvements to a structure’s exterior are also fine.
“If you want solar panels they qualify. A lot of these older homes are owned by retired people and if you make less than $60,000, then you get a check in the mail, so you replace your roof for $10,000 you get a check for $4,000.”
Dumas said she sees the potential of the proposal
“It is a benefit for the community as a whole if we all keep our houses up, when one does one thing as we saw on Main Street this summer, one building painted, another building painted, another one came in that is going to be painted this spring,” Dumas said, “It is like a domino effect.”
Trustee Matthew Boyea spoke in favor of another historic district.
“I think it goes along the same lines of what we are trying to do for Malone in general, it is going to help all the way around,” Boyea said.
According to Scharf, the original idea was to have one big historic district but the state wanted three separate districts.
Scharf said there are over 300 buildings in Malone, which qualify as historic.