LeVie barn on the move?

NEW SCOTLAND — The town is accepting requests for proposals through tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 8, to move the historic Hilton LeVie barn, now that negotiations with a Hilton heir for land across the street have come together, and before the current deadline for the barn to be dismantled, on Jan. 14, according to Supervisor Douglas LaGrange.

“We have an option that gives us a right to purchase an acre of land across from the barn, signed by both the owners and ourselves,” said Mark King, director of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, which has been handling the land negotiations for the town. The conservancy manages and operates portions of Albany County’s rail trail between Delmar and Voorheesville through a lease agreement.

“This is a critical step in allowing this project to go forward,” King said. The conservancy worked to protect “a structure, but it’s an historic structure on the rail trail,” he said.

In 1898, Joseph Hilton had Frank Osterhout build the massive barn on his farm; it was most recently used by the LeVies who ran a popular farmstand.

The option allows the town to purchase the land if the barn can be moved, King said.

“If the project can’t go forward for any reason, the town is not obligated to purchase,” King said. An estimate for the sale price of the acre in November was $25,000.

LaGrange told The Enterprise that Colonie Country Club owner Jeff Sperber contacted him at the new year, asking about the town’s progress in moving the massive barn from country club property off Route 85A, where a housing development is slated for construction this spring.

LaGrange said that a delay in moving the barn stemmed from a reticence on the part of the town to commit time and money before Hilton heir James Kain agreed to sell one of 13 acres across the road from the barn’s current position, adjacent to the rail trail. The town also waited to receive a “verbal semi-commitment” from Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy’s office that a state grant was in the works to pay for the move, LaGrange said.

The grant has a ceiling of $125,000, LaGrange said. Earlier estimates of half-a-million dollars were to take the barn apart and rebuild it, he said. The new plan is to pick up and move the barn, intact — a suggestion that was not previously considered, he said.

The massive barn, built in 1898, is 120 feet long and 60 feet high.

The barn would be moved from its old foundation, and placed on the parcel temporarily, LaGrange said, while waiting for the construction of a new foundation.

“It’s certainly doable,” he said.

This week, LaGrange said, he contacted Sperber and said that the town could use a loan and money from the park fund to go ahead with the barn move in February or March, to be determined as soon as the contractor proposals come in Friday, and the bid is awarded; the grant offers reimbursement but the town must pay upfront, he said. 
Local residents have rallied to preserve the barn, built by hand a century ago, and have worked to save it from being torn down and sold in pieces. 

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