Alissa Scott/Recorder staff Jody Zakrevsky, executive director of the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency, explained to the board Thursday night that an old mural is creating a hold up in the renovation of a building acquired from the United Way last year.
By ALISSA SCOTT
Recorder News Staff
Work on a Main Street property that the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency recently acquired from the United Way and is renovating has been halted, in part, because nobody knows what to do with an old mural plastered on a wall on the third floor.
"We still have an issue that we have not resolved with the third floor mural," Jody Zakrevsky, executive director of the agency, told the board during an AIDA meeting Thursday night.
The board members all suggested different avenues they could take in alleviating the problem -- covering it with a curtain or sheet rock, cutting the wall out, or destroying it altogether.
Ron Barone, chairman of the board, said he hasn't looked at the mural yet and doesn't see the significance of it, but he's "not a historian, neither." Board member Gina DeRossi said some residents have expressed concern that it the mural be preserved for its historic value.
"The city historian, I believe, has asked to try to preserve it somehow," DeRossi said, hesitantly. "That's what I've heard, but I haven't actually talked to him."
Board member Patrick Baia asked if it were possible for them to get a second opinion from an authority who "would say otherwise."
Zakrevsky said AIDA has shown the mural to the NYS Historic Preservation Office, who traveled back to the site a second time with the office's mural specialist.
"They do not feel it has any state-wide significance, however that does not mean it doesn't have local significance," Zakrevsky said.
Zakrevsky said SHPO came up with three solutions. First, they can fully restore it while still on the wall. Second, they can cover it and let someone else deal with it in the future and third, they can take it down, store it in tubes and give it to someone who may eventually be able to restore it.
Baia asked how much it would cost to store it in the tubes. Though Zakrevsky didn't have a definite figure, the board members presumed it would be costly.
"Basically, it is a waste of money to take the mural off this wall, put it in tubes and put it in somebody's closet so that maybe somebody, in twenty years, is going to have a half a million dollars that's going to restore this mural and put it who knows where," Barone said. "That's ridiculous. Why should we spend $50-$100,000 for it to sit in somebody's closet?"
Zakrevsky said they do need to find a solution for the mural right away, because the roof of the building still needs to be renovated prior to that. Based on an initial cost estimate, that could cost $50,000.
"Until we have the issue of the roof resolved, it doesn't make sense to slow down construction on the third floor," Zakrevsky said. "I don't want to put a lot of money into the third floor until they can fix that roof ... I think we've given the city enough time to come up with the cost estimate of what needs to be done [to the mural.]"
Barone said AIDA received a grant of nearly $600,000 to complete this project and there is lots of opportunity for what it could amount to.
"There could be a restaurant in there, who knows," Barone said.
The board intends to set a date for a committee meeting in which they will discuss it further.