Village to host downtown revitalization seminar

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:45

    WARWICK-About a quarter-century ago, when the Village of Warwick became a Historic District, the Chamber of Commerce received a grant from the New York State Council of the Arts and hired Norman Mintz to help plan its downtown. Mintz was one of the best downtown planners, according to Mayor Michael Newhard. He worked on a study on downtown revitalization and façade renovations. He'll be back next week to see how well his plan worked out. The Village of Warwick is partnering with the Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Orange County Department of Planning, and the Orange County Citizens Foundation to host a one-day forum, Revitalization of our Downtowns, next Friday, June 4. Newhard said the idea grew out of a yearly three-day conference, sponsored by the New York Conference of Mayors, dealing with Main Streets. "I haven't seen much Orange County representation at that conference," Newhard said. "I figured, let's bring the mountain to Mohammed. There is no reason why every downtown in Orange County can't find its niche." This is why Newhard sent out letters to every mayor, supervisor, planning and zoning board in the county. He also encourages concerned private citizens to attend as well. "We've been the leader in the past 30 years," said Newhard. "We've defined and redefined ourselves downtown. Warwick is a wonderful working example of things done to get to this point." Evidence of Warwick's success, according to Newhard, is the full storefronts and the growth to areas outside of Main Street, such as West Street and Railroad Avenue. "People are clamoring for our storefronts," Newhard said. "Upstairs and down, Main Street is healthy." In addition to Mintz, the conference will have two sessions in the morning and a repeat of those sessions in the afternoon, in order to give attendees the opportunity to catch all the discussions they find important. The day begins at the Warwick Reformed Church fellowship hall with registration from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Newhard will welcome participants at 8:45, followed by County Executive Edward Diana and Mintz, the keynote speaker. Special events and beautification, mixed uses both upstairs and down on Main Street, and historic preservation are the discussions in Session I from 9:45-10:30 a.m. The second session begins at 10:45 and will include business improvement districts, given by Spencer McLaughlin who developed the first BID in Orange County, creating new anchors, and designing for successful downtowns. After lunch, the sessions are repeated at 1:30 and 2:30 respectively. David Church, commissioner of the Orange County Planning Department, will provide the wrap-up at the end of the day. Other presenters include Sylvia McChesney from the Goshen Chamber of Commerce, Deborah Sweeton, chairperson of Warwick in Bloom and owner of the General's Garden, Tania Werbizky of the Preservation League of New York State, and Alan Sorensen. "We have a really rich day planned," Newhard said. "We have top people in their fields with lots of information to share." The cost is $20 and is limited to 100 participants.