Enhancements could lead to transformation in Hamilton
HAMILTON — Having secured $2.25 million in funding from New York State's NY Forward program, officials are ready to transform the village of Hamilton for the better.
The village applied for both the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Forward back in September, but the DRI was done in conjunction with the neighboring communities of Morrisville and Cazenovia. When the village was selected for NY Forward, Mayor RuthAnn Loveless said there was excitement amongst everyone at the village hall.
There are a number of issues that officials at the Hamilton Village Hall would like to see addressed.
Hamilton is a compact, walkable village with a small urban center surrounded by working rural landscapes. But one issue the many a residents have voiced concerns about for the last few decades is the five-way intersection on Route 12B.
"There may be some better options for that," said Joyce Gavitt, the executive director at Partnership for Community Development. The PCD is a not-for-profit supported by the village and town of Hamilton, along with Colgate University, to ensure the holistic health of the community.
The New York State Department of Transportation planned a number of changes to Route 12B and its five-way intersection already and Gavitt said they included this in their NY Forward application.
"The complete reconstruction of 12B through the village and we saw that as an opportunity to develop the civic spaces around the area to ensure it's a transformative project and not just a road realignment," Gavitt said.
"The 12B segment through the village goes from the McDonald's to the north and Community Memorial Hospital to the South," Loveless said. "And we want to look at anything we can do to beautify this area, whether that's green spaces, benches, and more."
There will be a public meeting on Tuesday, March 28 to discuss the work being done by the Department of Transportation and get input from the community about 12B's issues as a whole. A time for the meeting is still in the works.
Another issue in Hamilton is housing.
"We have some incredible employers in the area with the likes of Colgate University and Community Memorial Hospital," Gavitt said. "Hamilton is a working center in the region, with many people coming here to work — but they don't live here. And that's because we don't have the housing stock."
Gavitt said the village has anecdotal evidence from the president of Colgate University that "...they have lost potential employees because there was no housing in the village."
The Partnership for Community Development also did a study in 2018, discovering that 2,000 people work in the village that don't live there. "So we lose a lot of human capital after 5 p.m. every day," Loveless said.
"There are also projects that we can absorb [this] with 160 houses over a 10 year period," Deputy Mayor Russell Lura said. "But we haven't been able to get developers to come in and build houses on speculation. We did work collaboratively with Colgate University and they built 20 new houses that were open to the public — and they were purchased immediately. That's a success and a sign."
Increasing housing would also lead to an increase in the tax base, school district, and more.
The next step is for a planning consultant to get in touch with the village to help officials reevaluate goals and projects. There was public input on these first few projects, but there will be future meetings where the Hamilton community will be asked to come together to discuss what truly matters to them as a community and what needs to be done.
"There very well may be other projects and ideas that people want to pursue that weren't in the original application," Lura said. "Or maybe there was something we thought was minor in the application that the public really wants to see done."
"It's an ongoing and moving project," Loveless said. "If you were to ask us a year or two now [what projects are going forward], it would be interesting to see the difference. Regardless, we want what's best for the community and that input will be forthcoming, adding to what we've already suggested."
At time of writing, there is no current timeline when these community meetings will begin. Gavitt said she hoped to see them start within "... the next few months."
The public is encouraged to prepare themselves and get their ideas together for these future meetings.
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