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Preservation committee seeks member

Rutkey agreed that residents should be aware of the need to safeguard historic sites.

"Development is a challenge," said Rutkey. "Sub-division proposals come in and developers have made no plans for the homesteads that may sit on those sites, and the homes get demolished. There are so many sporadic farm houses that aren't magnificent, but are historically important."

Rutkey said he is concerned with a trend to remove barns and homesteads and instead place a plaque or small landmark sign.

"To preserve a home in its original location is by far the best option," said Rutkey. "We have designated a long list of historic sites in Malta, but only a dozen or so are actual buildings."

Rutkey said much of the responsibility falls on the developers and the town boards governing new construction, including the planning and zoning boards.

"Everyone involved needs to go to a site and see what's significant about it without destroying what's there," said Rutkey. "In my mind, I look at a location that contains a historic structure to be off limits to development. There's still the American attitude out there that they can do whatever they want with land. Take a look at a town map"there's so much land out there, and all we're asking is that developers protect these small footprints where the homes and barns have been for years."

The committee also works with owners of historic homes who are faced with ongoing repairs needed to keep up to code.

"We can't allow these homes to fall into disrepair, because they're considered significant to the community," said Rutkey. "But we recognize there are incredible costs incurred to fix up these homes, so we work with people on seeking grant opportunities and tax credits. The bottom line is that we want to help as much as we can so these buildings can be maintained for decades to come."

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