Past, present, future for Sharon


By Patsy Nicosia

How does the Village of Sharon Springs see itself--in the past, present, future?
That’s the question local members of the NY Forward Local Planning Committee need to answer as they begin to refine a list of potential projects for $2.25 million in state funding.
And they want the public’s help, input and ideas.
Already, consultants from the Laberge Group have been meeting with local leaders and residents, and 10-question surveys will be going out in places like the bank, Post Office, businesses, and the Senior Meal Site.
The surveys—which ask questions like what’s missing in the village and what’s most needed to encourage investment and economic growth--are also available on the NY Forward website,
More importantly, on Thursday, July 13, from 4:30-6:30pm at the library’s Community Room, there will be an open house-style public meeting where residents will be asked to use Post-Its to ID the village’s strengths and weaknesses and weigh-in on what its priorities should be for downtown investment.
All of that’s critical to a “vision” for Sharon Springs—something Laberge and other consultants have been pulling together using, in part, the village and town Comprehensive Plans.
The vision will be used to help decide which projects are submitted to the state for possible funding.
At their second meeting Tuesday, members of the LPC worked to answer that first question: How does the Village of Sharon Springs see itself?
Answers included: historic, diverse, quirky, quaint, quiet, healthy, and artistic.
Consultant Todd Poole of 4ward Planning, who’s working for a number of NY Forwards, said add in restaurants, and all of those things could easily be turned into a vision for the future.
“There is no other place like Sharon Springs,” he said.
“That is the cool factor.”
Resident Byron Winston, who never intended to buy a run-down home to rehab in the village—but did—said he’s found “a hometown feeling here. I’ve never felt unwelcome here. It’s a visitor destination with a hometown feeling.”
Austin Jetton, a professional actor and now, local chocolatier and small business owner, said, “What brought me here—and a lot of us here—is the arts.”
But there are challenges too.
Among those identified by Laberge: steep slopes that hinder development, too-fast traffic, missing crosswalks and crumbling sidewalks, too many vacant and underutilized properties, and too little housing.
“The population isn’t large enough to move the needle economically,” said Laberge senior planner Kevin Schwenzfeier.
“It needs to be a destination.”
The LPC won’t meet again until Tuesday, August 15, when members will begin a review of proposed projects.