Placemaking Anniversary Reviews Past Year
By Eugenia Moskowitz
The monthly Washingtonville Placemaking meeting on Nov. 13 at the high school marked one year since its formation, and the meeting saw upwards of 60 people in attendance, possibly its largest meeting ever. Not a cake-and-cookies affair, the meeting got down to brass tacks with Tom Amend from local Standback Construction leading the discussion about what events and developments took place over the past year, what glitches need to be worked out, what succeeded, what didn’t, and what can be added and by whom.
A vocal group of seven public affairs students from Washingtonville High School brought a fresh teen voice to Placemaking and are coordinating with Date Night co-founder and marketing expert Noni Goldman to better advertise events to the town’s youth through social media (such as the teen-popular Instagram, as opposed to “stuffy old” Facebook) in order to get more teens to attend events, which, they said, they haven’t been hearing about. They said that Witchingtonville, which drew close to 3,000 people, would have been a great event for teens to come to had they only known. And that this connection can be the vital link which can incorporate Washingtonville’s huge untapped demographic of adolescents into village events, as opposed to only little kids and adults. The teen group is dedicated to spreading Placemaking event information in the high school, and was very energetic.
Also, it was said, in one short year Placemaking has developed into a fully-networked initiative incorporating long-time Washingtonville groups and individuals with newly-formed groups and newcomers, blending what already exists in Washingtonville with new energy to propel events, community growth, and town spirit even further.
The idea of a coherent calendar of annual events was discussed and is currently being worked out. The dates of the inaugural year’s brand-new events, including the Easter Bonnet Parade, Date Night, Witchingtonville, Community Day/Color Run, and the Farmers Market, will be marked ahead of time to hopefully avoid clashing with other large events or performances, for example at the high school. It was mentioned that this year’s Christmas Firetruck Parade (created by Rick Lewis seven years ago and growing each year) is taking place the same time as NYPAC’s performance of The Nutcracker, unbeknownst to either, splitting attendees from both, and introducing a possible traffic jam. The owner of Sardella Construction, who is donating his services to building the new park across from the middle school, said, “That we have so many things going on to choose from means we’re a vibrant community.” And while people agreed, others said that coherently partnered events would be possible to achieve with an annual calendar of events. For example, Brotherhood Winery is holding its tree-lighting on Dec. 1, the village of Washingtonville on Dec. 2 (right after the Christmas Parade), and another holiday event is taking place on Dec. 3. This way, it was said, all the town’s events can benefit from Placemaking energy since Placemaking is the umbrella under which people from longstanding community groups come together with fresh ideas from people newly involved. Examples of such well-known groups with major events are: Blooming Grove/Washingtonville Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, Lions, Knights of Columbus, Food Pantry, Moffat Library, Brotherhood Winery, the local firehouses, NYPAC, the Washingtonville Beautification Committee, the Washingtonville Central School District, and Run for Fun. Also, the Washingtonville Police Department needs to secure everyone’s safety at these growing events, but is limited in manpower.
Events that either existed prior to Placemaking, or took place independently and spontaneously, are: Run for Fun’s Hot Chocolate Valentine’s 5K, the school district’s Scholarship Run 5K, the Hudson Valley Hot Rods weekly car show, the Salisbury Mills Haunted Firehouse, and pop-up events such as Art at The Lot, Taco Night at The Lot, and Yoga at Vern Allen Park. People said these events can be meshed coherently with the larger new events of the past year which were deemed a success.
The next Placemaking event is the Dec. 2 Christmas Market taking place prior to the Christmas Firetruck Parade. In addition, the Beautification Committee is decorating the village and businesses with potted trees which can then be adorned with hand-decorated ornaments initiated by scouts and other school groups as fundraisers. Anyone interested in purchasing a live potted Norway Spruce (4-5 feet tall $20, 5-7 feet tall $30), which can be planted in the ground afterwards, can contact Richard at the Corner Candle Store (845-496-6868 or firstname.lastname@example.org) by Nov. 13, or call Beautification Committee members Leanne Bucco 845-774-9262 or Trustee Diane Mack 845-590-9621. The trees should be decorated by Dec. 1 in time for the Christmas Parade.
CAPTION: Placemaking meetings are the second Monday of every month at 7:00 p.m. at the high school. Everyone is welcome. (Photo by Eugenia Moskowitz)