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A VISION TAKES FORM FOR WASHINGTONVILLE'S FUTURE


By Edie Johnson

Editor, Orange County Courier Journal


Chase Bank Building has, along with Moffat Library been the sign of "Welcome to a Historic Village"


In Washingtonville's Village Hall on Thursday evening, the Conference Room was buzzing with designs and criteria for the vision that the Comprehensive Plan Committee thinks residents are hoping for, and that will keep its vintage look, welcome new business, place a senior housing complex with walkable country pathways to the Village Center for shopping, and maybe even a larger space for the festivals and its already packed Calendar of Events.


The main focus is that with numerous historic buildings that are already stunning, anything new in the Village Center should embed that characcter.


Moffat Library, recently restored, is the pride and joy of many Washingtonvillians. It unites history in both its exteior and interior offerings, and also has state of the art community programs, and digital systems.


Fear not! The meetings not only are open and anyone can come and learn and participate, but there will also be surveys and at least one public workshop open meeting to hear directly from residents what they see their future as. It's clear that the overwhelming number of residents want a future for the Village that is tied to its historic past. A watering trough and hotel were originally placed right at the center of the Village, where the two main South to North roads of the Continental Army intersectd and they undoubedly passed through on a regular basis. Today's villagers, and many of them have string ancestral ties to the Colonial days, don't want that history forgotten.


Why is it necessary for a municipality to protect its heritage structures if they already are or could be on the National Landmark Registry? Because the placement there is a very nice honor, but it offers no proection.

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For many residents who are transplants from The City, this is the view in the center square of Washingtonville that we thought of as a small child when Mom & Dad smiled almost simultaneously "Let's Go to the Country"


In Washingtonville's Village Hall on Thursday evening, the Conference Room was buzzing with designs and criteria for the vision that the Comprehensive Plan Committee thinks residents are hoping for, and that will keep its vintage look, welcome new business, place a senior housing complex with walkable country pathways for shopping, and maybe even a larger space for the festivals and its already packed Calendar of Events.


Fear not! The meetings not only are open and anyone can come and learn and participate, but there will also be surveys and at least one public workshop open meeting to hear directly from residents what they see their future as. It's clear that the overwhelming number of residents want a future for the Village that is tied to its historic past. A watering trough and hotel were originally placed right at the center of the Village, where the two main South to North roads of the Continental Army intersected and they undoubedly passed through on a regular basis. Today's villagers, and many of them have string ancestral ties to the Colonial days, don't want that history forgotten.




Very steep gabled roofs gave the Village both charm, and protection from the damage of snow and rainstorms.


Striking to note how many buildings (the ones in brown) on this time period map predate 1800


This "Planning" project has wider visions as well. Planner Bonnie Franson (of Nelson, Pope, Vorhis, which is the Town of Blooming Grove's Planner as well) noted that after the colonial homes and businesses graced the main early roads, Route 94 and Route 208...and Goshen Road, the more current subdivision neighborhoods generally followed the terrain, with clustered homes surrounded by green spaces, many in the 80's and afterward in the Ahern Blvd..area. Some of the green spaces became parks, but a significant portion has remained wetlands and is not suitable for future building. Another characteristic that was obvious of the Main Street of old was that most buildings had extreme gabled roofs and porches, which added to the country look. As commerce grew and the space where the porches were placed were given up for pedestrian sidewalks, the roofing style, dimensions, and similar placement of windows continued to give the street cohesion. And just a few blocks out of the village's center the porches are still a significant style point in many of the homes, both old and new. Trustee Donna Jacaruso (below) showed a new palate of colors that the Village is adopting to highlight their presence in a "Colonial" town. If a sufficient number of historic buildings are identified, it will give weight to forming a "Historic District." In addition to the Village's current Architectural Review Board, Franson said they can develop a Design Review Board. In Montgomery, she added, all businesses must undergo a design review. These boards would then set the parameters sof what can and cannot be changed.



Village Trustee, Donna Jacaruso shows the new Village color Palate


Along with a healthy list of things just about everyone loves about Washingtonville the committee started a list of things that are problemmatic and need to be addressed, and two of the iconic views that they feel are critical to preserve. The two main problems noted were traffic around school and commuting times, and parking when the Village Center is busy. Franson asked people to brainstorm for any possible alternate route solutions that could ease parking. The two large agricultural and view spaces that exist now are Udderly Delicious Farm, just out of the Village to the North, and the 150 acres of the Cassazza land between Woodcock Mt. Road and Route 94 as it enters and crosses the main Moodna Bridge on Route 208 from the Southeast. The team talked about how future planning guidance could help allow building and still retain the character in that area.


When the Planning Surveys are ready, the first one (which will be brief) will be identificantion by residents of spots on an interactive map that they think are particularly important (participant can enter twice to mark several sites). Control over having only Village residents take the survey is a bit challenging since the Village zip code extends well beyond Washingtonville into Unincorporated Blooming Grove, and with rental properties it's the owner who receives notices. There was consensus however, based on previous surveys, that it would still fulfill the purpose since residents can help each other participate when needed or stop by Village Hall if necessary. Given that there will be a much more detailed survey later, as well as at least one in-person workshop (and that the ongoing meeting are all open), they felt the zip code issue is not a big enough issue to preclude its use.



The Hallock Home is a good example of adaptive reuse, where a historic home (adjacent to the Village Hall) has maintained the Colonal image but transformed into a Doctors' Office and other business tenants.



This photo, Franson showed as an example. It was taken from another hitoric village and shows a brand new business that still complements and in fact highlights the charm of the remainder of the village.


A significant issue in the Problem category is the home of the current Police Department. While it is a lovely historic building, it does not fulfill today's department needs. Not only are space and maneuverability issues, there is not adequate parking space, and two police cars cannot even pass each other during shift changes or an emergency. A plan that was put into action a few years ago to move the Police Department to the upstairs in the new Village Hall failed when they determined that its support beams are not structurally strong enough for their requirements. The future will have to see some structural changes if that is to happen, or the Department will need to seek a new location.


Lastly, there was discussion about places for after school activities, and some sports that "have inadequate space to practice". A Village Residential Sport and Recreation Center was recommended by several Committee members who said their children missed a place to congregate after school is dismissed.


Much more to do and share about this topic so stay tuned for lots more Courier updates on this.


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