By Ed Townsend
LIVINGSTON MANOR November 30, 2001 There was enthusiasm and excitement Monday night in the crowded room housing Livingston Manors Eastern Star/Masonic Temple where an open house took place in preparation for the next stage of this hamlets Main Street Improvement project.
The open house was held to obtain feedback and ideas from Main Street businesspeople and residents from the hamlet and surrounding area. It was hosted by the Livingston Manor Sullivan Renaissance Committee and the Livingston Manor Chamber of Commerce.
Several topics discussed were the move of the First National Bank of Jeffersonville from Pecks Market to the old Fleet Bank just across the lot from Pecks and the possibility that an independent drug store might locate in Pecks Market after the bank moves (or to another Main Street location).
Results of written statements by those attending the meeting will be used to generate ideas and additional input as the Main Street plan goes for another redraft. It was firmly stated by committee members organizing this plan that a secret benefactor has pledged big money to the town if it can put together a workable, solid plan for a Main Street revival.
Several of the proposed plans getting a lot of attention were new sidewalks, additional parking areas, a river walk along the Willowemoc and a band shell near the Willowemoc.
Over the last decade, hundreds of towns nationwide have made efforts to revitalize their business districts. Recognizing the potential for improving the shopping area of Livingston Manor, the Livingston Manor Revitalization Project, Inc. and the Town of Rockland turned to the Sullivan County Department of Planning and Economic Development for technical assistance in developing a comprehensive plan.
The purpose of the study was to develop improvement strategies in an effort to capitalize on Livingston Manors potential as both a local shopping area and a tourist and vacation center.
A steering committee of local businesspeople was formulated and now calls itself the Livingston Manor Renaissance Committee. Members of the committee include John Checchia, Lisa Lyons, Christine Carrera, Gerard Ilaria and Steve Wilkinson.
Their mission statement says, A group of concerned residents and businesspeople are working to create a Main Street that is inviting and stimulating. To accomplish this, the skills and services of many individuals will be needed. The contributions of these participants will help create a plan to make our community a better place to live and work.
From Monday nights open house meeting, county planners will study community comments and can then work to obtain grant funding for the work.
In earlier survey work performed by the Sullivan County Department of Planning and Economic Development, it was clearly defined that Livingston Manor has a very distinct separation of residential uses from commercial uses, with most commercial activities occurring on Main Street. Some 90 percent of the businesspeople responding to the survey rated the attractiveness of Livingston Manor as fair or poor.
Vacant lots are said to be unkempt, detracting from the hamlets appearance.
The greatest visual assets, the survey said, are the Willowemoc Creek and the school.
The survey indicated that a wider array of businesses are needed to supplement Pecks Market, the bank and the library. Improvements to the existing infrastructure still need to be addressed, according to the county survey.
The survey suggested the development of a proper sidewalk system, planting trees along the curb, adding planters along the sidewalks, adding a pathway behind the buildings adjacent to the Willowemoc, and developing a pathway along the river. Further open space development could be pursued in the area behind the town parking lot, and pedestrian improvement is recommended in upgrading the bridge crossing the Little Beaver Kill.
It has also been suggested that an overall marketing strategy is necessary in order to attract visitors to the hamlet.
The next stage in the Main Street renaissance is a meeting and a walking tour of Main Street on Monday, December 3. The meeting is at 1 p.m. at the Catskill Morning Farm, located at 87 DeBruce Road near Route 17s Exit 96, and the walking tour is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Anyone wanting to attend the meeting is asked to RSVP John at 439-4900.