STAFF REPORT

The historic Brookwood Point property in Cooperstown is one of three projects in New York state to receive a Scenic Byway Grant. The project, which is being overseen by the Otsego Land Trust and Brookwood Citizens’ Committee, was awarded $188,000 to improve public access to the site as part of the U.S. Route 20 Scenic Byway Corridor, according to a media  release from the Land Truston Monday.

The 22-acre Brookwood property, on the western shore of Otsego Lake, is the site of the former Cook Estate and includes a main house, gardens, wetlands, flood plains and more than a quarter-mile of lake frontage.

The Cook Foundation, which had managed the property until its merger with the Otsego Land Trust a year ago, was created in 1985 by Bob Cook to oversee his family’s estate.

At the time of the merger, Cook Foundation President Robert Poulson said the financial burden of maintaining the Brookwood property “exceed(ed) the Foundation’s resources.” In March, a plot of land in the village of Cooperstown was donated to the Land Trust by Jim and Eileen Dean with the goal that theorganization could sell the land to support its maintenance of Brookwood. At that time, Land Trust executive director Peter Hujik said that long-term ownership of Brookwood could place an undue financial burden on the Land Trust.

Committee co-chairmen Francis Nolan and Martha Frey said in a media release that they were enthusiastic about the grant news.

“We felt we had a good chance to receive the grant because the project had come so far in terms of planning and overall support,” Frey said in the release, which also reported that more than $100,000 has been raised by Otsego Land Trust to support Brookwood Point. “None of this would be possible without the Cook Foundation’s collaboration in merging with Otsego Land Trust,” Nolan said.

In the release, Hujik said the committee has helped form a site plan, which was developed with architectural and historic preservation planning firm Crawford & Stearns. Hujik said the plan would “allow safe, public access while taking care to protect the Brookwood Point’s tremendous conservation values.”

The grant application was accompanied by letters of  support from CongressmanRichard Hanna, the Chesapeake Conservancy, Route 20 Association of New York State, Cook Foundation, and the Park Board for the Village of Cooperstown, according to Otsego Land Trust boardmember Joe Homburger, who assisted with the grant application.

The Brookwood Citizens Committee is working on its final recommendations to the Otsego Land Trust Board. It is expected that a final report will be submitted to the Land Trust Board this fall.

Hujik noted that Otsego Land Trust has not yet received the actual funding agreement, so he has yet to review the specific requirements and conditions associated with accepting the funds.

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