By Nathan Mayberg
MOUNTAINDALE March 5, 2004 About 50 area residents turned out to discuss ways to improve Mountaindale on Sunday.
Helen Budrock of the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development facilitated the discussions.
This off-the-beaten-path town has very few shops opened year-round. For most of its life, it has served as a summer town. When the trains used to go through the hamlet, it was much busier during the off-season.
And residents want to see a little more life brought back. Not too much, mind you. That would take away from what many see as the hamlets biggest positive peace and quiet.
Many of the people who came out Sunday said they moved to Mountaindale from New York City for its peacefulness and scenic beauty. And they dont want to see that go away.
But most also agreed they needed more year-round businesses. Driving through Main Street that day, only four shops were open.
Elizabeth Rogers said she was drawn to the area for its history and architecture. But she "wants more to happen."
Helen Heggman said the fire department and ambulance service needs volunteers.
Ruth Baxter, the 86-year-old treasurer for the First Aid Squad, said she has been a volunteer for 40 years.
"It doesnt matter if you are young or old. There is a job for you," she pointed out.
She recalled a Mountaindale in its heyday where sidewalks and streets were packed. The trains were an impressive sight which could be seen from Main Street.
Some now call Mountaindale a ghost town. They said they wanted to see it come alive again.
"There is nothing for kids to do," said one lady.
Bob Shrem talked up the positives of Mountaindale. He said he "likes the rural character," and it is only an hour and a half from New York City.
Bill Kaplan recalled his first glimpse of the hamlet.
"I didnt even know where I was, but I loved it," he said, which drew resounding laughter.
Some complained about the lack of full-time jobs. Many called for restaurants and businesses. Some even wanted the trains to come back.
Other ideas to revitalize the town included a year-round park, a tennis court available to the public, a basketball court, and improvements to the old railroad tracks where a bicycle trail and walking path now exist.