Chester citizens rally to revive their downtown

Chestertown Rotary Club official Rich Dwyer said his group would be interested in helping to clean up and beautify Main Street, and the club members were ready to volunteer their services.

Resident Ann Murphy proposed a study be conducted to determine the demographics of Main Street, so an effective, sustainable revitalization strategy could be pursued.

Town Water Superintendent Jason Monroe said that the influx of summer visitors has changed from those renting cabins and motels to those occupying their second homes. A way has to be found to get local people, including second homeowners, to shop locally, he said. In the same vein, entrepreneurs and community leaders have to work together to bring good jobs and affordable housing to town so that younger people can remain in the town without relocating to other regions, he said.

This migration of youth has been a trend in the Adirondacks that has alarmed community leaders and public policy observers in recent years.

Resident Ann Murphy advised that applying paint and planting flowers would help improve the downtown, but to be wary that too extensive upgrades might drive up property values so local stores might not be viable, and local residents might not be able to afford wares and services offered.

Local resident Mary Miller said that the older buildings downtown are expensive to heat and that parking is a substantial problem.

Markie Carroll, former co-owner of Panther Mountain House, said that merely washing windows in the vacant buildings would make them look better and that the school children could create seasonal art work on the windows to make the buildings more attractive temporarily while they remain empty.

Carl Johnson, who co-owns a bed and breakfast enterprise on Landon Hill, said that at a recent Chamber meeting it was announced that the new owners of Lincoln Logs will be working more with the community, and perhaps this will include beautification and redevelopment efforts.

After much discussion, it was agreed to send out a survey to the those attending the meeting to gather input in devising a plan. Monroe suggested that once the plan has been drafted, it should be presented to the Town Board for review.

A committee was formed to prepare and send out the survey before the next meeting which will be held at 7 p.m. March 3 in the Chester Municipal Center.

Journal Editor Thom Randall contributed to this report.

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