Historic Hilton barn remains in limbo

NEW SCOTLAND —The proposed relocation of the historic Hilton-LeVie barn is still in flux, but the Albany County Legislature is set to vote on accepting requests for proposals to move the barn this month.

“They need to be ready,” said Mark King, the director of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy about the legislature.

The conservancy is negotiating to purchase land from two out-of-state Hilton heirs, who still own 13 acres across the road from the barn’s current location on Route 85A, King said. The heirs may sell one acre near the existing county rail trail to the conservancy for the placement of the barn, he said.

“We are [negotiating] for ourselves, in cooperation with the town and the county,” King said. “We will acquire the land and give it to Albany County, assuming all details are resolved.”

“We do have the money to buy it,” said Albany County Legislator Herbert W. Reilly, speaking of the one acre of Hilton land. Reilly ran for re-election to the legislature, but lost Tuesday to William Reinhardt, a Bethlehem Democrat.

Reilly said that the town, in conjunction with the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, received a grant to purchase the land.

“They have the $25,000,” Reilly said. “We still need RFPs to get the cost [of moving]. Somebody gave us a quote of $75,000. We need a hard quote.”

Reilly said that funds for the barn’s relocation may come from Industrial Development Agency funds, or funds slated for environmentally sensitive buildings.

Earlier this year, Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy’s representative, Mary Rozak, told The Enterprise that money for the movement of the barn was not highlighted in the proposed budget for next year, and probably not included.

“The county executive is certainly supportive of this, and of any initiative supported by the community,” she said.

McCoy won re-election to his post on Tuesday.

Reilly, who serves on the legislature’s Conservation and Improvement Committee, said that the group of nine legislators met last week to request that the county’s Department of General Services issue a request for proposals, before sending the proposed resolution to the entire legislature for a vote on Nov. 9.

The previous barn owner, Country Club Partners, was in the process of selling the land to a developer last summer; a 16-lot housing development has already received town approvals. The town has been scrambling since last winter to find funds and land to move the barn before it is torn down for the housing development.

The Hilton land, across the road, has lagged in development, but Reilly is hopeful that the owners will work with the county.

“There’s no water out there,” he said. If negotiations go through, he said, “The land will be ours.”

“We want to have the owner understand that we are trying,” Reilly said of the Hilton heirs.

Technicalities

Reilly expects proposals to move the barn may fall between $100,000 and $125,000, he said.

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

“To relocate it in any capacity…the budget for that is probably $500,000 to $700,000,” said former New Scotland Councilman Daniel Mackay earlier this year. An advocate to save the barn, he has since resigned from his post for an out-of-state job.

Jennifer Hilton, who lives in Massachusetts, and her distant cousin George Kain, who lives in Virginia, co-own the property along the rail trail across the road from the barn.

"I hope we are coming together with an agreement so the barn can be moved,” Hilton told The Enterprise this summer. “It's an incredible structure. My great-grandfather built it.

"It is important personally,” she continued. “It is important for the community, and the success of the rail trail....I so very much want this to happen."

King said earlier that the conservancy manages and operates portions of Albany County’s rail trail between Delmar and Voorheesville through a lease agreement.

This week, he said, “I feel we have an agreement on price.”

Previously, Supervisor Thomas Dolin told The Enterprise, “Mr. Kain has not specified what the payment is. We’re assuming it’s $25,000.”

Negotiations at this late stage are about the terms of how the barn will be moved, he said.

“We need a lease to cross some of their property,” King said of the Hilton lands. Getting the large barn to the proposed setting on the acre near the rail trail would “infringe on the remaining land,” he said.

Asked if crushed stone would need to be laid across the leased area to accommodate truck traffic, King said that crush was not the issue so much as passage over the remaining land.

“We couldn’t keep it in the footprint,” King said. “It couldn’t go down Hilton Road and make the turn onto the property.”

“The conservancy is only doing the land piece of it,” King stressed about the project. “How the barn moves, the logistics, is up to the county and the town.”

Reilly said that the county is undecided as to how to use the barn once it is moved; he said that the large structure, with its ancient three-foot-wide beams, could be used as a farmers’ market, a bike repair stop along the rail trail, a small cafeteria, or to showcase historical items from the railroad.

More New Scotland News

  • Endangered bats, wetlands, and stormwater basins were among the topics the Voorheesville Planning Commission heard about in considering James Cillis’s proposal for an 11-lot subdivision called Serenity.

  • Stewart’s shops threatened to sue if Voorheesville’s planning commission required an in-depth environmental review of its proposal to build a store with gas pumps in the village, which the company calls an unlawful delaying tactic. Nevertheless, the commission proceeded; its chairwoman said of Stewart’s, “They can sue us or decide to work with us.”

  • Two animals were found dead and decomposed in a Feura Bush house last week.