The Rome Historical Society issued a release Wednesday morning clarifying its interactions with the new owner of the Erie Canal Village, Rick Rios.
In an article published on Tuesday, Rios said he was “working with (Society Executive Director) Art (Simmons)” to set up an event to meet the requirement in the deed that the property be “operate(d)... as a Museum/Tourist Facility.” If the requirement is not met, the deed stipulates, the property reverts back to the city.
The Society disputes this in its
statement, writing: “The Rome
Historical Society continues to believe that the preservation
and protection of the historical resources remaining at the former Erie Canal Village are paramount. However, while the current property owner claims to be working with the Society on an event that will satisfy the owners deeded requirement to operate as a Tourist Facility, or the property may revert back to the city, this is, in fact not true. To date, the Rome Historical Society has not spoken with the property owner about such an effort.”
Rios told the Sentinel that he had given permission to historical groups to use the property for events, saying: “I said ‘sure’ to them, to the historical people in October that want to use it (the property).”
The Society noted in its statement that it does not need permission to access the historic Fort Bull and Fort Wood creek sites located behind the village. The Sentinel reported that the fort sites are located on the Village property; they are not according to the Rome Historical Society.
“Also, the Rome Sentinel article of July 9, 2019 states that the Fort Bull and Fort Wood Creek sites are located on the same parcel as the former Erie Canal Village; this is also not true. In fact, the Fort Bull property, where Fort Wood Creek is situated, is owned by the Rome Historical Society not Cross Roads Redemption Church,” the statement read.
“While Mr. Rios has indicated in his statement to the Rome Daily Sentinel that he is ‘allowing’ historical groups to access the property, in the case of the Rome Historical Society there is a deeded easement allowing the Society access to its Fort Bull property which is legally binding as are other stipulations running concurrent with the former Erie Canal Village deed,” the statement read.
“As the future of the former Erie Canal Village continues to be uncertain, we remain steadfast with the leadership of our community to see the shameful and unsafe situation at the former Erie Canal Village, which was brought on by its former owners and interests, be addressed in short order and that these misunderstandings be corrected,” the Society added.
Rios, who lives on the west coast, could not be reached in time for comment.
Rios bought the property from Wheelhorse Development in the spring to open Cross Roads Redemption Church.