Members and guests of the Orange County Citizens Foundation gathered on June 15 to Honor this year’s Placemaking Awards at The Armory in The City of Newburgh.
By Michael Lebron
The event featured three distinguished speakers and a panel discussion.
Marc Wouters, Chairman of the NY Chapter of Congress for New Urbanism and creative director of Marc Wouters Studios is a leader in the design process for city center revitalization, urban infill projects, new communities, new town centers, resiliency planning, affordable housing, and a variety of architectural projects. In his presentation, “Creative Tools to Support New York State’s Small Downtowns”, he spoke about bringing these skills to bear in the revitalizatiuon efforts of Elmira and Oswego.
June Williamson is a NCARB certified licensed Architect with a background in urban design. She is currently an Associate Professor at the City College of New York, CUNY. June has authored a number of publications, including Retrofitting Suburbia. She spoke about how the transformation of dead spaces can give way to economic development as well as strengthening workforces, on how discarded strip shopping malls can be transformed into multi-level buildings where the ground floor is comprised of shops and eateries and the upper levels are housing, offices, health centers, libraries and schools, turning them into multipurpose areas that encourages walkability and the support of local business.
Eric Alexander is the Director of Vision Long Island, He walked through how Vision Long Island projects became successful and what goes into building a progressive initiative that has lasting results. He also talked about how and where to seek funding for various placemaking initiatives.
A panel discussion followed lunch that included Brenna L. Robinson is the Director of the City of Kingston’s Office of Economic and Community Development and the Executive Director of the Kingston City Land Bank; Bob Pritchard, a designer / draftsman who has worked in several small architectural firms; Cooper Boone, an award winning singer/songwriter, televised cook and owner of the acclaimed lifestyle store Foundry42, located in Port Jervis, NY.; and Valerie Maginsky, Executive Director of the Port Jervis Community Development Agency.
Clearly, the elephant in the room was The City of Newburgh itself, which is in need of some of the thoughtful ideas that each of the presenters brought with them. Louis Marquet of Leyland acted as the MC, and he and Marc were asked about the detailed, $2 million plan that Leyland and Andres Duany created for the city in 2008 and if it may be time to revisit it. Marc replied that a lot has changed in ten years, many things are done differently but the opportunity is still there. When told about the city’s plan to consider building more affordable housing on the 31 acre grassy site that was the location of the urban renewal destruction of the 70s, both shook their heads and said that Newburgh – while conceding that much of it is of poor quality – already has enough affordable housing, and that what the city needs is rate-able development.
Awards were presented at the close of the event. They went to:
Newburgh Illuminated, the annual festival highlighting Newburgh’s history, architecture, community, diversity, art, music and natural geography. Shining a spotlight on the assets and achievements of the City, Newburgh Illuminated draws people together to enjoy a day filled with music, art, culture, fine food and spirits, and community.
3 Pines Nature Place
3 Pines Nature Place is a unique, quiet place to enjoy nature. Attractive to all generations, it serves as a ‘pocket park’, and natural meeting place for Warwick residents. Using universal design principles, 3 Pines Nature Place is built on the grounds of an active Community Center, next to a community garden and orchard, adding an outdoor, nature dimension to these amenities.
Originally built in 1887, the Moffat Library in Washingtonville recently underwent a full renovation and expansion. The library became uninhabitable in 2011 after being destroyed by floods from Hurricane Irene. Out of that devastation, the library board, staff, building professionals, and members of the community came together to restore and expand the structure, while preserving its historical legacy. Today, the beautiful new and improved Moffat Library has resumed its place as an anchor of the community, located in the center of the Village.