‘Rich History’: Cassadaga Discusses Historical Museum

Nancy Wickmark, Chairperson of the Cassadaga Planning Board, pictured at left, presented initial plans to pursue the formation of a Cassadaga Historical Museum to the Village Board at a recent meeting. P-J photos by Braden Carmen

CASSADAGA — Planning Board Chairperson Nancy Wickmark visited a recent meeting of the village Board of Trustees to discuss the Comprehensive Plan of the Village. But instead, it was her second item of note to present that had the Board most excited.

Wickmark presented the Board with a proposal to establish a Historic Museum in the Village, with a site already in mind.

“It sounds exciting,” Mayor Bill Dorman said.

Wickmark said the inspiration for a museum came to her on a walk around the village, as she continued to fixate on the “wonderfully rich history” of the area she calls home. As Wickmark and the Planning Board put together the Comprehensive Plan for the Village, she recognized that artifacts, publications and other materials that inspired memories of the Village’s history do not have a suitable place to be displayed.

But then, Wickmark discovered a property for sale that she believed would be a prime location to house a historic museum.

Cassadaga Mayor Bill Dorman called the potential formation of a museum “exciting” for the Village of Cassadaga. P-J photos by Braden Carmen

“What interested me is that it is right in the location in the village where you can easily go from activities in the village … and around the corner would be a history museum,” Wickmark said. “… The location seemed to be really good.”

The home, which was built in 1880, is a two-story building with five bedrooms and a total of 2,588 square feet of space. There are two main floors, with a dry basement, an attic and a two-floor barn. There is a bathroom on each floor; plenty of natural light with sizable windows; and multiple suitable options to implement an elevator.

According to Village Deputy Mayor Bill Astry, the building is structurally sound, but is in need of repair, restoration and retrofitting. The first floor could be utilized for displays and interactive stations, while the second floor could be a library and group area for meetings to be held.

The site also features a wrap-around driveway to accommodate parking needs. It is located in the center of the village, near the Cassadaga Library, which could potentially partner with the Historical Society, if necessary.

Wickmark hopes the formation of a historical society and museum would make the village’s history available for “the enjoyment of all of us, especially for the education of our youth and our children.”

Wickmark later added, “What we would like it to be is more of an engaged opportunity to feel like you stepped back in time. We’re hoping it is an engaging space, a comfortable space where people will want to come to when they come to Cassadaga.”

The home in question has been for sale for over a year and is currently listed at $89,900. Astry believes the cost to repair the interior of the building to fit the needs of a museum would cost approximately $100,000. However, he still feels that the project is worth evaluating to pursue grant funding to assist the Village.

“I think it’s worth looking into,” Astry said. He then motioned on behalf of the Village Board to instruct Wickmark to proceed with gathering information to proceed with a project.

Wickmark will now lead the formation of a project team to further explore the idea. The team will draft a project plan, including requirements, resources, tasks and a timeline for the project to proceed. If the project advances substantially, it will be presented to the Village Board for approval before the project will officially begin. Wickmark said the process is similar to that of the Nature Park recently established in the village.

The Board also recently entertained a presentation from Kathy George on behalf of the Cassadaga Library regarding its sustainability. George stated the Library is barely getting by with the funding it has each year.

Under state Education Law 259, libraries can propose funding on school district ballots, allowing district residents to vote on sustainable funding for their libraries. A few local libraries, Cassadaga included, have begun to explore this option for the upcoming school budget votes. A petition was circulated throughout the Cassadaga Valley Central School District community to encourage the District to list a proposition on the ballot this coming May.

The libraries in the district are asking for $124,000 from the school budget. If the proposal passes, it will lessen the burden on the libraries, as well as the municipal budgets who often assist libraries with funding needs. Instead, the entire school community would foot the bill through an increase to school taxes. The Village Board expressed support for the proposition.


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