Although not a Newburgh native, Chuck Thomas takes pride in calling Newburgh home. In his time in Newburgh, Thomas has helped make his mark as the director of the Newburgh Free Library, and more.
Thomas applied for the library directorship position after previously working with the library’s literacy program part-time. “I applied for the job because I thought I could continue the work that I’ve been doing,” said Thomas. “And that it was really important work, it’s all about how to serve this community.”
As the director of the library, Thomas watches over 65-full-time equivalent employees. He has to examine every single aspect of the library ranging from the temperature of the library to staff placement. “The staff does incredible work,” raved Thomas.
“My job here at the library has given me the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people in the greater Newburgh community, and my life is richer for that,” said Thomas.
In addition to being the library director, Thomas was reappointed as chairman of the CAC for a two-year term at the most recent City Council meeting two Thursdays ago. CAC stands for Conservation Advisory Council.
The CAC offers comment and advisement on city projects in areas like the Newburgh Waterfront. It acts as an advocate for all the city’s natural resources. These projects come to the CAC for advisement on their impact on natural resources.
“I’m glad they [the City Council] were willing to continue working with me,” said Thomas. “The CAC has a real role in the City of Newburgh.”
The CAC is a heavy feature in Newburgh’s revitalization. With growth also comes the recognition of long time community hallmarks like the library.
To Thomas, the library is a “place of wonderment.”
“It’s a positive force,” said Thomas. In 1976, the library was built with a four to five vote approval from the Newburgh Enlarged City School District. “That was one of the many things that helped the city make the comeback that it’s made,” said Thomas.
The location of the library is pertinent. The library currently serves the City of Newburgh, the Town of Newburgh, and the Town of New Windsor. “It was a commitment to stay in downtown Newburgh, and recognizing the need to have an anchor in the community,” said Thomas.
Based on the location of the library and the commitment to the community, “Newburgh made it a gathering place where all voices can be heard, and we can have conversations about the things that are important to our community.”
The library has hosted a series of community events over the years, such as events for waterfront proposals and other community improvement projects. Many community groups meet in the library. “We strive for all different voices to feel comfortable here,” said Thomas. “For all different voices to feel it’s their institution and their space.”
“I have the great honor of being involved all those conversations,” said Thomas. “As Newburgh came together as a community.”
Like his work with the library, his position on the CAC requires dedication to the community.
One of the projects that the CAC is heavily involved in would be the waterfront revitalization plan. This plan features the building of South Street Park. “Access to the waterfront for the public is a huge consideration of mine,” said Thomas. To improve access, the CAC is working on continuing the waterfront trail and creating other additions to the waterfront.
The CAC currently has three positions open. “We’re looking for people who are committed to the community,” said Thomas. “Who are willing and open to put in some hours, a number of hours to try to better our community.”