ALBANY, N.Y. - Defending their neighborhood and heritage - that is what residents on Rapp Road in Albany are doing after another parcel of land is sold in their shrinking community.
The Daughters of Sarah Senior Community bought a one-acre parcel of land on Rapp Road in March of 2012, land that is adjacent to their property off Washington Avenue Extension.
But the residents' concern is not just over the land and its future, but about the house that sits on it, which was built by the original owners and settlers of the land.
The community is a historic African American community, which dates back to the late 1930's and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
"I am so frustrated," says Beverly Bardequez, a third generation resident of Rapp Road. "I have a hard time sleeping at night. Because I say, this now, what next?"
Bardequez worries not just about the purchase, but about the intent of demolishing the home, a case that went before the City of Albany Planning Board a few weeks ago.
"We don't oppose change, we ask that you respect our community," she says. "Respect who we are and not just come in and think you're going to change the face of the community."
Bardequez calls the home an integral part of the community and says the demolition would be devastating.
Leiah Bowden, the director of corporate communications for The Daughters of Sarah Senior Community, says the property was purchased in order to safeguard the buffer between their property and the Rapp Road land.
"We have no plans of developing it, in fact, we have no plans at all," says Bowden. "We're looking into what we can do to make sure the property remains safe and that it's not a hazard, and that's all we're doing at the moment."
"Our reason we sought an application for demolition is because we have no adaptive use for the building and there are some concerns about the safety of the structure," adds CEO Mark Koblenz. "We felt the demolition was a good option given the condition of the property. We are willing to talk to residents for other ideas."
Bardequez says the house is rich in heritage, a heritage she plans on preserving.
"We intend to be here for the duration. When I'm gone, there's nothing I can do about it. But right now I'm here."
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