Historic preservation worries in Bethlehem as development accelerates

BETHLEHEM – Historic curators in the city of Bethlehem are concerned about several historic properties in the city that have come on the market recently – particularly one in Slingerlands that was once owned by a member of the hamlet’s founding family.

The 8-acre property, located at 29 Mullens Road, which is tucked away behind the Slingerlands Bridge on a dead end road next to the train tracks, is on the market for $999,000 and is being marketed for development.

The property was once home to Cornelius Slingerland, owner of the former Slingerland Printing Co., whose building is nearby across the railway line and is now used as apartments.

A few years ago apartments were launched for the Mullens Road site before the town started going through its comprehensive planning process which halted commercial development until last summer.

Today, Coldwell Banker Prime Properties is the listing agent for the Cornelius Slingerland home, describing the plot as “ready for development” on its marketing material.

Leah Witko, the listing agent, could not immediately be reached for comment.

But Preserve Historic Bethlehem, a local historic preservation group, fears the house will be demolished and replaced with new flats, which the group says will help destroy the historic character of Slingerlands, which is the small hamlet’s main attraction and the few companies that operate there. There are similar worries about other properties, including farm buildings that could be demolished as part of the development and the city’s own plans to preserve open spaces.

“Throughout our city, you notice historic spots like the Heath Farm buildings, Kleinke’s Farm, the Slingerlands Historic District and other places because they’re so rare in most suburbs,” said the group, led by Sheri Sanduski and others, in a statement. provided to the Times Union. “That’s why we urgently need comprehensive protections to leverage what makes Bethlehem unique. If we don’t have this discussion now, the loss of what makes our community special will have consequences for generations.”

Not everyone believes that’s true, including Bethlehem City Supervisor David VanLuven, who pushed the city’s open space plan, which includes a proposal before voters next month that the city buys 307 acres of historic Heath Farm in Glenmont and Selkirk for just over $2 million.

VanLuven says preserving historic and open spaces can be done at the same time.

“We’re involved in a lot of things simultaneously,” VanLuven said. But he added that preserving open space does not mean that historic preservation should be set aside or that one cancels out the other.

“It’s a false equivalence,” VanLuven said.

Despite the debate, is this a way for local residents to support historic preservation this weekend in Slingerlands, which is named after the Dutch family Slingerland (there’s no ‘S’ in the surname while the hamlet has an ‘S’ at the end) which had several prominent local residents involved in business and politics.

The Slingerland Family Burial Vault held a ‘living’ walking tour of historic Slingerlands on Sunday with actors in costumes portraying members of the Slingerland family. The the tour costs $28.21. Email [email protected] with questions.

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