Sunday, July 3, 2011

UPDATE: 900 Columbia Street

In February, Gossips discovered that the Mental Health Association of Columbia-Greene Counties planned to demolish 900 Columbia Street. A petition was created, asking MHA to reconsider, and within a few weeks, it had 658 signatures. 

In March, shortly after the petition had been delivered to MHA executive director Jeffrey Rovitz and the MHA board, an ad hoc committee of advocates for the building, made up of Timothy Dunleavy, Jane Smith, David Marston, and me, met with Rovitz and Susan Cody, who directs MHA's residential division. Although the meeting was amicable, all our subsequent suggestions for how MHA could accomplish its goal without demolishing a pre-1835 house were dismissed as not possible. In response to the negativity, we suggested that perhaps, since the funding for the project was coming from the New York State Office of Mental Health, MHA needed to speak with someone at the State Historic Preservation Office to learn about their obligations under the State Historic Preservation Act of 1980.   

Since April, the discussion and investigation that will decide the fate of 900 Columbia Street are being carried out at the state level. The latest word is that SHPO has issued a statement that 900 Columbia Street appears to be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places and a review of the project is currently underway. There is no indication at this point of what the outcome will be. 


  1. Carole, is there anything we can do to bring more pressure at the State level? Are there other state agencies -- other than SHPO -- that might get involved? Does MHA answer to any state regulators? And how about Saland or Molinaro?


  2. Peter--I'm sure MHA is subject to all kinds of state regulation, but I think the only part of state government concerned with the building they're planning to demolish is the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation--more specifically, SHPO. The laws are in place--at the state level--to protect the building, and we're waiting for this to go through the process. I don't know if there is anything more we can do to insure a good outcome. If anyone reading this has an idea, please share it.

  3. Why not organize a demonstration at the site of the building to continue pressuring MHA and our elected officials to do the right thing? I know I'd go.

  4. Perhaps an information picket line? Many of our neighbors may not have a clue as to what we're talking about.