“It’s like being in a Hallmark movie, cute shops, band every week playing in the center, everyone knows everyone. The flowers are gorgeous and Christmas time it’s just beautiful in town.”
Montgomery survey respondent
Village of Montgomery residents and property owners have completed a survey that local officials hope will lead to a grant to further enhance Montgomery’s assets.
“We’re better than the rest,” proclaimed Village Historian Brian Fitzpatrick at the Sept. 16 village board.
Fitzpatrick helped conduct the online survey, with the assistance of Delaware Engineering. He said the survey would be useful in applying for a grant that would provide an opportunity for the village to enhance the assets it already has.
Helen Budrock, Senior Planner for Delaware Engineering outlined the process at the September 16 meeting. She said the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) has been around since 1970s, but for years, smaller villages like Montgomery were forced to compete for grant monies with larger cities in the Mid Hudson Region like Yonkers, New Rochelle and Newburgh. Recently, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the creation of the NY Forward program to invigorate and enliven downtowns in New York’s smaller and rural communities—the type of downtowns found in villages, hamlets and other small, neighborhood-scale municipal centers. The State has allocated $100 million for the first round of NY Forward. Each of the State’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs) will have the option of recommending two communities for $4.5 million NY Forward awards or three communities one of which will receive $4.5 million and two will be awarded $2.25 million.
Budrock said Montgomery’s application will be reviewed by the Mid Hudson Regional Economic Development Council before it is submitted to the state. Decisions are expected to be announced before Election Day.
“Even if you’re not selected for funding, being a part of the selection process elevates the community in the eyes of the state,” Budrock said.
“Other opportunities may come down the road.”
In Montgomery, the targeted areas for projects would include the area that extend along the intersection of Route 17K and 211. Any approved projects would be within that target area. Typical examples would fall into one of four areas:
1. Parks and Green spaces. Connecting Benedict Park and Veterans Memorial Park with a pedestrian bridge over the river and working on a linear park and walkway along the shores of the river has been suggested. It would create a pedestrian network that comes to link all these pedestrian sites to the downtown business district.
2. Making the streets more pedestrian friendly by creating walkways and bicycle lanes.
3. Setting up a grant program to which downtown businesses could apply.
4. Gateway development. It would improve the entranceways to the village
Fitzpatrick said the on-line survey received 330 responses, including 34 from downtown business owners. Of the respondents, 75 percent were village residents, and 68 percent reported to be Montgomery property owners.
“I envision a thriving downtown with easily accessible outdoor gathering spaces, seating, and the ability to eat outdoors,” wrote one respondent. “ Where people see the Wallkill River as an easily accessible resource, and where folks don’t feel they require a car to get to shops, restaurants, or public recreation spaces. Where pedestrians and bicyclists are protected from large vehicles and higher-speed traffic.”
The following were the most consistent comments regarding current downtown needs and issues:
• Improve walkability – consistent sidewalks & safer streets
• Reduce traffic – truck traffic through downtown was a major concern
• Better Parking – several people mentioned the need for more parking downtown
• Business Diversity – people want to see a mixture of “mom and pop” shops and more outdoor dining
• Improve parks – new playground and “Walkway over the Wallkill” mentioned several times
• Building Renovations – façade facelifts, many mentioned downtown is looking “old and tired.”