Seneca Falls Town Board defeats resolution to cut funding to Women’s Hall of Fame

Local News

Seneca Falls Town Board has defeated a resolution that would have dropped funding for the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

The resolution was defeated by a vote of 4 to 1 with one abstaining. The resolution was proposed by the Seneca Falls town supervisor after the hall’s decision to induct actress Jane Fonda. In 1972, Fonda sparked controversy over her visit to Hanoi, the enemy capital, during the Vietnam War. Supervisor Greg Lazzaro says they have given roughly $278,000 to the hall of fame over the last decade and secured a $420,000 grant, but those numbers are misleading according to board members.

“The resolution reads as if we are primary sustaining supporters of the National Women’s Hall of Fame. We are not,” said Doug Avery, who is on the Seneca Falls Town Board. “Of that $278,000, most of that– $250,000 came in 2010 when the National Women’s Hall of Fame received a ‘Restore New York’ grant for $2.5 million to takeover, restore and open a new hall across the river. As a requirement for that grant money, the local municipality (Seneca Falls) had to chip in 10 percent.”

According to Avery, some other donations came in in 2010 and the last thing the town did for the Hall of Fame was give them a pile of gravel last fall. 

The $420,000 is a grant that passes through the town from New York State to the Hall of Fame, but isn’t a direct donation. 

Avery says he voted “no” Monday night because he believed the wording of the resolution was misleading and that the board shouldn’t make a decision like that in the first place. He added there hasn’t been a monetary donation from the town to the Hall of Fame in years and there’s no money in this year’s budget to do so.

When asked how much money the town of Seneca Falls would save if it no longer donated to the National Women’s Hall of Fame Lazzaro said “It would be a minimal amount over the years. It would be a very minimal amount.”

Lazzaro made his stance clear during Tuesday night’s meeting by saying he proposed the resolution to support veterans. Vietnam Veterans and others expressed their frustration with the Hall of Fame nomination of Fonda.

“What she did was despicable,” said Nick Valenti, a Vietnam Veteran.

In the resolution, Lazzaro criticized Fonda for posing for pictures atop missile launchers designed to shoot down American aircraft. Lazzaro says Fonda’s induction is disrespectful to Seneca Falls’ many veterans. Seneca Falls resident Mary Midey, whose father served in the war, feels Fonda’s recognition is not that controversial. Midey says Fonda was protesting an unpopular war, not specifically American troops.

“This isn’t the first time we nominated a controversial woman and it won’t be the last,” said Kate Bennett incoming chair of the National Women’s Hall of Fame board of directors.

According to Lazzaro, the only way that resolution can come up for a vote again, is if a board member who voted it down brings it back up.

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