The Saugerties Historical Commission wanted to make sure nothing happened to the Opus 40 bluestone sculpture and surrounding property — now for sale — that would endanger its historic integrity. The nonprofit that owns it asked the commission not to get involved because Opus 40 is a piece of fine art, which is out of the commission’s area of expertise.
Last week, the Town Board sided with the property owners, and voted to deny historic designation, which the commission recommended Oct. 17. The board cited plans by the not-for-profit corporation that oversees the property to establish an arts center on the property at some future time, as well as the owner’s strong objection to the designation, as reasons for denial.
The sculpture itself was designated historic by the state, federal and local government some years ago. This decision affected the surrounding property, which includes the house and Quarrymen’s Museum.
Josh Randall, the commission’s chairman, accused the Town Board of being more concerned with the wishes of property owners than preserving the town’s legacy. The not-for-profit said restrictions could put a damper on its efforts to attract investors for the new arts center and any other future plans.