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2018-05-11 10:03:18   
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D&H Canal Museum Should Know Its Limits

HIGH FALLS – We New Yorkers are a proud bunch who want the best for our communities.

Unfortunately, the state is full of hustlers and hucksters who will take advantage of our civic pride to pick our pockets.

The latest dream-scheme is to turn the High Falls D&H Canal Museum into a "cultural and recreational destination" for just a million or so dollars.

Ever been to the museum? Small and intimate, for 35 years it’s been located in a former chapel in the center of town. Aside from educational trips for school children, the museum has never done any meaningful business.

Therein lies the rub. The D&H was a canal, a 100-mile ditch abandoned more than a century ago and, compared to the much larger, more impactful Erie Canal, a historic afterthought.

Yet the Canal Society and Open Space Institute are touting the remains as the "Roman Forum" or an "Aztec temple", a must-see NY attraction.

Hello, this is High Falls, not Cooperstown or Roswell whose economic prosperity depends on the marketability of their museums.

The plan is to move the museum into the 1797 Depuy House, once a four-star restaurant, to "enrich the museum’s operations and storytelling capacity and further connect it to Ulster County’s developing identity as a cultural and recreational destination."

The society has already gutted the Depuy House kitchen to greatly enlarge the future museum which will serve as a "clearing house" for museums across the state. To make all this happen, the society will "engage in a multiyear, community-wide campaign to raise additional funds for the historic preservation and adaptive reuse of the Canal House to a museum and visitor center dedicated to the history of the D&H Canal and the region’s heritage."

Unless the local residents wake up and understand that the D&H Canal Museum is just fine where it is.

Let us restore the Depuy House to the "lock-tender’s" cottage it used to be. Invest the money saved in our future rather than the past, in our schools, our environment, our children and grandchildren.

In remembering the D&H Canal, quote a biblical proverb: "He who digs a pit shall fall into it."

Kevin Ahearn
High Falls



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