Residents Debate Historic House vs. Athletic Fields

In a recent meeting of the Ridgewood Village Council, the fate of a local historic landmark, the Zabriskie House, has come under intense discussion. The Council is considering converting the area around the house into athletic fields to address the village’s shortage of such spaces. However, the proposal has sparked a vigorous debate over the property’s historic value and future.

The Zabriskie House has been at the center of a long-standing controversy. The property, initially part of a larger farm, has lost many of its historical features over time. Its architectural significance and ties to a British colonial officer’s sword have been disputed.

However, certain residents remain protective over the property. Jacqueline Home, a resident, appealed to the Council, “at what point will the Village of Ridgewood act in good faith and proceed with that entire assessment of that parcel?” During the meeting, Denise Lima echoed Home’s sentiments, expressing concerns over the transparency of the research conducted and the need for more resources dedicated to validating the property’s history.

A historic preservation specialist, Peter Perimvera, proposed two scenarios regarding the property’s future. One involved amending the National Register nomination to reduce the amount of property considered historically significant. The other suggested relocating the historic house, a process estimated to cost around $25,000 plus the cost of acquiring the new property. He argued that the house’s historical significance would not diminish and might even be enhanced by relocation to a more residential setting.

However, the proposed relocation and field development have met with resistance due to financial concerns. Residents criticized the allocation of a $14,000 budget to study the house move, given the existing budget issues and high taxes. Fears were also raised that funds for footbridge repair might be redirected to the Zabriskie House project.

Amidst the debate, Keith Casmar, the newly-appointed Village Manager, made it clear that his priority for the next 90 days is to understand the concerns and priorities of the Ridgewood residents. He has planned a “meet the manager” event for September and launched social media accounts to facilitate direct communication with the community.

The Zabriskie House issue remains unsettled, leaving a cloud of uncertainty over the future of the property. The possibility of relocating the house is weighed against the need for additional athletic fields. As the debate rages on, the village awaits a decision that could reshape its historical and athletic landscapes.

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