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Johnson Hall master plan discussed

Members of the Fulton County Board of Supervisors' Economic Development and Environment Committee hear about Johnson Hall at a recent meeting at the County Office Building in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — A Fulton County Board of Supervisors’ committee recently urged enactment and implementation of Johnson Hall State Historic Site’s proposed master plan.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead recently informed the Economic Development and Environment Committee of the “very ambitious” plan. The committee passed a resolution that will go before the full board Monday urging passage.

“It’s really impressive,” county Historian Samantha Hall-Saladino said of the draft plan.

Stead added: “It’s a big initiative compared to any interest we’ve seen in Johnson Hall in the last 50 years.”

A draft copy of the master plan handed out at the meeting showed it is being produced by the state Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation. It contains “priority phases” for the future of the historical site, including:

— Immediate: Install a fire detection system in the Northwest Stonehouse; demolish a barn on the 2020 acquisition (137 Hall Ave.) parcel; demolish the Visitor Kiosk; pave Johnson Hall Park’s strolling path with asphalt.

— Priority one: Renovate the home in the 2020 acquisition for support staff housing; construct a new Visitor Center; build a new parking lot; remove existing parking lot and restore ground vegetation; construct a Trade House in the north side yard; develop and implement a comprehensive signage plan, use living shoreline design to stabilize Hale Creek’s banks.

— Priority two: Construct a blacksmith shop in the north side yard; construct a longhouse in the location of the old Hall Avenue roadbed; remove restroom from hall basement and restore the space; construct an additional restroom on the first floor of the Northeast Stonehouse.

— Priority three: Construct a Garden House in the frontyard between the Visitor Center and Johnson Hall; create a dramatic sense of arrival though landscaping, signage, etc.; construct a signed interpretive trail at the head of the 2020 acquisition parcel; build a bridge across Hale Creek and expand the signed interpretive trail onto parkland north of Hall Creek; remove subsurface roadbed to facilitate orchard health.

Stead noted that a presentation about the draft master plan was conducted by the state online July 22. The state previously in 2018 launched a master planning development process, including a presentation at Johnstown Junior-Senior High School.

The draft plan that resulted includes many action items that if completed over the next several years, “would be an extraordinary boost to the local economy,” Stead said.

Many of the action items were ones local participants in the 2018 public meetings provided input for and are in the draft plan, he said. They include blacksmith shop, visitor center, better signage, trading post and encampment area.

“In reality, Samantha and I talked about some of the specifics in this plan right now,” Stead said.

Stead said the plan is on the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation website related to Johnson Hall, and the state is still looking for public comment.

The plan itself can be found at:parks.ny.gov/inside-our-agency/documents/MasterPlans/JohnsonHallStateHistoricSite/DraftJohnsonHallSHSMasterPlan.pdf

Stead said he has sent out a letter supporting it and it is important the Board of Supervisors and other local officials express support for completion and implementation of the master plan by its Aug. 12 deadline.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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