Bonding that threatens historic Stanford homestead
December 15, 2006
Dear Concerned Citizens, Friends of Stanford Home,
Bonding that threatens historic Stanford homestead on State Street and Balltown Road, and its parkland, is going forward. As soon as this coming Tuesday night, the Schenectady County Industrial Development Authority could be voting to permit the commercial bonding the Ingersoll trustees seek, to pass under IDA’s special standing, and thus have advantages that only IDA can ensure, it seems.
We have known for weeks that Ingersoll Trustees were turning to commercial bonds. As our Capital District community became more informed about the threat to the historical mansion and lands, citizens became deeply concerned that Ingersoll Trustees were risking the beautiful and special Ingersoll/Stanford. And risking it for a financially-shaky large, new, health facility on Consaul Road, in a time when the economics of such buildings are clearly a poor risk. When the word got out that Ingersoll was seeking to sell tax-exempt bonds by a standard technique of working through the auspices of the IDA, it started a public outcry.
This new approach to the $8 or $9 million in bonds still involves the IDA, it appears. Details are being kept very close to the collective vests of insiders. Is this not why health care costs are such a national disaster in this nation?
At a Town Board meeting on Tuesday evening of this week, there were some contentious exchanges during privilege of the floor between Attorney Louie Lecce and me. Lecce has been the public face of Ingersoll, and has stated for over a year that he represented Ingersoll Trustees, at many Town board meetings. I often have been a spokesperson for an ad hoc group, Friends of Stanford Home. At one instance on Tuesday, Lecce pointed to me and said something like, "She and her friends have caused the bonds that Ingersoll needs, to be more expensive because they have to now get commercial bonds."
His partly faulty statement aside, that comment by Attorney Lecce reminded some of us with the Friends of Stanford Home that the attempt to sell these bonds was close. Dealing with this bonding before the end of the year had been suggested to us by some of our fiscal consultants. Lecce’s focus helped us note that a public meeting of IDA next Tuesday may be the key step to let the County of Schenectady’s IDA play a role that is counter to the community’s fiscal and health needs as well as the community’s historical preservation efforts. Those two matters are what is called a segmentated action, each dependent upon the other, and thus both to be fought, or stopped, for good reason: Preventing a failing charitable tax-exempt mission at the current Ingersoll, where trustees are losing $10,000 each month with under-used facilities, to build and run a huge and costly new facility.
Ingersoll does not need to build an expensive 74-bed facility for a combined adult home and memory impaired clientele at a time when the state is seeking to close excessive beds for nursing homes, hospitals, adult homes and all. Nationally, health care for the elderly is moving toward more and better home care to save expensive facility care.
Ingersoll is a very special case, for to build the new facility, the Trustees plan to sell the elegant Stanford homestead with 12.5 acres to a developer for a mall, stores not needed or wanted by most citizens of our area.
We need an immediate investigation of this proposed action by the Schenectady County Industrial Development Authority. This county entity has an obligation not to further destroy our history, our heritage, our green space, in exchange for traffic grid-lock, attendant exhaust pollution, added lighting pollution, and more box stores, another drug store. The facilitating of Ingersoll bonds permits sale and destruction of the Ingersoll/Stanford as it now exists.
Besides the mansion and its very useful additions, there would be loss of all of the majestic trees that grace the 12.5 acres remaining of the homestead of five generations of Stanfords. The sons of the Stanfords who bought the home and 200 acres in the 1850s, became international businessmen on three continents in the 19th Century. And the world famous Stanford University which was founded by son Leland, and his Albany wife, Jane, evolved from the fortunes made by those businesses.
As soon as possible we will provide details for all who might want to attend the meeting scheduled by IDA to consider the Ingersoll bond arrangements. It is not unusual to make such meeting arrangements at a time when most citizens are distracted by family and holiday celebrations. That often keeps public attention away from actions that can affect our community both in quality of residential life and in fiscal ramifications, for years to come.
Thankfully, Attorney Louie Lecce inadvertently brought this issue to light by his bond statement which jogged our research team.