O.K., let’s end the bidding at $1.00

That big nature preserve (and at 50 acres, bigger than I thought it was) down behind Huguenot Street belongs to the Huguenot Historical Society. The preserve is called the Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary, after the family that donated it to the HHS.

The historical society has announced that it wants to sell the Harcourt.

So, here’s what I don’t get. This is a precious, gorgeous bit of natural parkland. It was gifted to the historical society, and now the historical society wants to sell it, preferably to the town or village of New Paltz.

The Harcourt is never going to be developed, so it has no market value. None. But the historical society presumably wants to make something on the sale. What, might I ask, is the value of such an exchange to the purchaser? In other words, if the village or the town of New Paltz paid a certain sum for the Harcourt it would in effect be making a donation to the HHS.

But the real question here is the protection of the Harcourt. So, as a taxpaying citizen of both the town and village of New Paltz, I would start and end the bidding at $1.00 and challenge anyone involved to explain why the value of the exchange would be any higher than that.

I’m assuming in this that the original giver of the land, the Harcourt family, gave the gift so that it would be protected, as a wildlife sanctuary. By what intent and spirit of that gift does the Huguenot Historical Society propose to invite a donation to itself from local taxpayers who already bear the burden of these 50 acres as untaxable land?

Yes, it would certainly be fine for the village or town to take the Harcourt off the hands of the HHS, but how could a price higher than $1.00 be justified?

More: According to the linked news story the Huguenot Historical Society says that it wants to sell the Harcourt because it needs money and that “wildlife” is not central to its mission. But this land isn’t just “wildlife,” despite the name of the preserve. It’s the very land behind and adjacent to the core of the historical Huguenot site, with its gorgeous stone houses. I don’t see how this property can be said to be outside the society’s mission. It strikes me as being an essential part of it.

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