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Sen. Gillibrand Celebrates Political, Economic Successes of Federal Historic Preservation Funds

Scott Willis

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand used a stop at the former Hotel Syracuse Friday to point out the important role of federal historic preservation dollars in revitalizing older buildings.  She was celebrating the success she and senate colleagues had in including nearly 89 million dollars in the upcoming budget for department of interior’s historic preservation fund. 

President Trump’s proposed budget originally slashed the fund, which Gillibrand says would have been a big mistake.  She cites projects other than the Hotel Syracuse that have benefitted:

"The old West Brothers Knitting Company factory [in Syracuse], which was turned into affordable housing.  It includes an old school in Fulton which was turned into affordable senior apartments.  It includes the historic Courier Building in Syracuse, which now has resaurants and apartments.  As you can see, the program is very effective."

That’s exactly what Assemblymember Bill Magnarelli says he and his colleagues in both chambers of the legislature pointed out to Gillibrand to rally support for the funding.

"We wrote her letters and tried to get in touch with her staff  to make sure that we said that Upstate New York, Syracuse, Onondaga County, these credits are vital to what's going on in the restoration of old buildings and old neighborhoods."

Federal historic preservation funds are often used in concert with state tax credits, which Magnarelli says they’ve been able to extend.  Senator Gillibrand says the state has beautiful, old architecture that can’t be ignored.

"A lot of it has to do with the Erie Canal, it has to do with how commerce flowed up the Hudson to Albany, then straight west into Pennsylvania, into Ohio, into the rest of the nation.  As a consquence, beautiful things were built in our state...a long time ago.  The fact that we've recognized that and preserved it shows that we know how to continue the great legacy that New York has."

Gillibrand says the preservation also serves as an economic engine by generating jobs and driving additional development as we’ve seen in downtown Syracuse.


Count New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand among those who feel there’s more to learn about the record of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.  She says they’re not satisfied with what they’ve received so far to fulfill their constitutional duty in the confirmation process.

"I hope democrats can keep asking for the basic information so we can know his views.  The ones we know already are so far outside the mainstrem, so if there are issues, we need to know them.   That's what advice and consent is all about.  We have a right to have basic facts  about his views."

Gillibrand says so far, they know Kavanuagh has consistently sided with corporations, including insurance companies.

"He believes if they want to raise to raise your rates because you have a pre-existing condition, they should have a right to do that.  That's not consistent with New York values.  We believe that health care should be a right, not a privilege.  Regardless if you're born with a condition or have one during your lifetime, all people should get access to good, affordable health care."

She calls his record “toxic,” especially when it comes to women’s reproductive rights.  That includes possibly ignoring precedent on established law.

"I've seen in his writings that he doesn't believe precedent is paramound.  He thinks there's decisions you should overrule, like Roe v. Wade."

Senate Republicans like John Cornyn  have criticized their democratic colleagues, saying there will never be enough documents to satisfy them. 

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at