"Each building does not rise to the level of individual significance, but taken together they comprise an area that has an historic feel to it," Opalka said.
It's hard to say just how many buildings would be included in an historic district, but Leath estimated it could be about 50. The search will be focused along New Scotland Road from the roundabout at Cherry Avenue to the town line. In addition to many homes, this general area includes the former Slingerlands Printing Company and the Home Lawn Hotel (now a residence).
The district, if formed, would encompass a singular area, but non-historic structures within the district would be labeled as "noncontributing structures." The state uses a 50-year cutoff as a rule of thumb, but in Slingerlands there are two basic time periods of significance " the time of the plank roads and the railroad era, when the area became a commuter haven due to the nearby railway station " and structures in good condition from these periods would be targeted for inclusion.
The requirements for forming an historic district include a detailed summary of the area's history and a canvass of residents or businesses. That door-to-door process has already begun, said Muhlich.
"It's been overwhelmingly positive," she said. "We have had no negative comments at all, and the people who are in favor of it are by and large very enthusiastic."
There were also many homeowners who seemed largely indifferent to the idea of creating the district, said Leath. That might be because living in an historic district doesn't generally have a major impact on residents.
"It's simply a recognition, it really has no impact on what you can do to your house. Those regulations come at a local level, and we don't really have those in Bethlehem," Leath said. "If the district changed so much that it wasn't historic anymore, they would just change the designation."