Thursday, July 30, 2009

Signed, sealed, delivered, at last!

It was a happy day in Buffalo yesterday as well over 100 preservationists, developers, and others gathered to watch Governor Paterson sign legislation that enhances the New York State Historic Preservation Tax Credit. The Landmark Society has been part of a statewide coalition, led by the tireless efforts of Daniel Mackay at the Preservation League of New York State, that advocated for years for the original tax credit - which passed in 2006, with limitations that made it unworkable - and then on the revisions, which have been on an unbelievable legislative roller-coaster over the past three years.

Tuesday afternoon we got the news that the governor would be signing the legislation in Buffalo on Wednesday at 1. Joanne and I cleared our schedules - we wouldn't miss this for the world! It was wonderful to be part of the enthusiastic crowd that filled the gorgeous atrium of the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society, including a number of legislators and other dignitaries. We heard remarks by Mayor Byron Brown of Buffalo, a strong advocate for the legislation; from legislative sponsors, including Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, whose persistent support of the program was crucial; and from Jay DiLorenzo, President of the Preservation League. Governor Paterson's remarks demonstrated that he truly understands the value of the legislation and its potential to create jobs and tax revenues, and be a significant catalyst for revitalization of neighborhoods and downtowns. We learned that he has a background in historic preservation in Harlem, and was the keynote speaker at a National Trust conference in Florida in the early 1990s - he told us there are few issues dearer to his heart than preservation and that he was delighted to sign the legislation.

In the coming weeks, we will be working with our colleagues at the Preservation League and at the State Historic Preservation Office to understand exactly how this program will be implemented and how we can best facilitate its use in western New York. One of the great benefits is that whereas the 2006 version of the program could only be used in the most distressed neighborhoods, this one is more broadly defined so that many more historic neighborhoods and buildings are eligible. Stay tuned for details!

(Photos, from top: Governor Paterson's remarks; Jay DiLorenzo, President of the Preservation League of NYS, speaks; Governor Paterson about to sign, with bill sponsor Assemblyman Sam Hoyt at his left shoulder.)

Posted by Katie Eggers Comeau, Director of Preservation Services


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