Newburgh Community Conversation Recap

Newburgh Community Conversation

Yesterday was the Newburgh Community Conversation at the armory on S. William Street. Double the amount of people showed up to this event than the first one! The conversation was headed by Arianna Koudounas, a native Newburgher and urban planning student at Georgetown. We started off with introductions and then later broke off into groups to discuss: housing, economic development, education and youth, and the arts. All of our groups set 3 long term and 3 short term goals for Newburgh. One idea that I particularly liked was the idea to brand Newburgh art spaces and galleries with a symbol like other communities do. The idea for Newburgh was the light bulb that had already been used in the Newburgh Illuminated Festival to commemorate Thomas Edison’s work in the city.

It was a great event to get everyone talking and thinking about ways to better the City of Newburgh, as well as a great place for networking. We had people come from as far as Maryland to Massachusetts to be a part of the event. There were people who had been living in Newburgh their whole lift to people who are interested in moving to the city and wanted an insiders point of view. The next event should take place in about 2 months.

Now that the Newburgh Community Conversation has ideas and creativity churning out, it would be great to see how we can all come together and make something happen! If you’d like to be a part of this event, stay tuned for announcements for the next event.





12 Comment

  • kudos to Arianna for pulling it off! It had a really nice turnout with 50-60 active people, community leaders, volunteers, business owners, real estate professionals, young people who’d grown up in Newburgh, and even a few seeking to invest or move up to Newburgh. There was an eager, young representative (Frank) from Skartados’ office as well who took good notes and reached out to people.

    Many good suggestions were made. Some really good outlines for action on key issues in the city such as bulk trash pickup (how many times do we have to ask!!?), developing and maintaining housing that will attract taxpaying owners, helping kids and parents find educational resources (like the armory and the library)..

    I hope that there is someone who took minutes, or we soon see the email lists.

  • Arianna–I posted a comment on the meet-up site but, here again, bottom line: Thank you so much for getting this off the ground and organizing it in such a productive way.
    Hannah–as always, your astute summary is invaluable. And–leave it to you to give credit to where all credit is due:
    Arianna, the one comment I heard yesterday and today was that two months hence for the next meeting might be too long to maintain the momentum of yesterday. Because so many subjects were introduced yesterday, it seems to me that monthly meetings are in order. And what are your thoughts on changing the format somewhat and devoting each meeting to a specific subject, using a panel of people connected to each subject and led by a moderator? For instance. :
    1) The Land Bank–What is it exactly, how can information on its properties be accessed and who can apply? A lot going on here but even rooted Newburghers have lots of unanswered questions and would like to hear directly from Madeline Fletcher–along with, say, Mike who–via the Land Bank– is restoring the old CS church.
    2) Non Profits in Newburgh. As you undoubtedly know, this is a controversial subject here because as admirable as the big ones are, they subtract form the tax base of the city, leaving the little People homeowners sand small shops to make up the difference. At my table, there were two strong voices–representing both pro and con. It was an enlightening interchange: I say we need more of this.
    The list of subject possibilities is almost limitless but Community Forums where all sides are represented–and questions from attendees are encouraged– would be a great contribution to Newburgh.
    If you are interested, I’d be happy to help your organize, recruit panels/speakers and secure meeting places.

    • Thank you Hannah, Suzanne, and Janis for your feedback and compliments. Sunday was certainly a motivating beginning.

      Suzanne- I appreciate your suggestions and do heed your advice. As far as a conversation being devoted solely to the Land Bank- while this is surely a possibility moving forward, I do recall Hannah mentioning that an informational session on the Land Bank will be taking place on the evening of February 19th.

      I have just sent out a recap email to all those who attended this past week and others I have been in touch with, and will copy a portion of it here:

      Thorough notes were graciously taken by some of our participants. Within the week they will be distributed. Until then, I have two questions for all of you:

      1) Many have expressed interest in the next conversation taking place within the next month or so. Please reply here as soon as possible if Sunday, March 2nd, from 3-5 pm works for you. This will help us gauge whether arranging another one so soon would attract as much attendance.

      2) There was mention of giving primary focus to only one of the four topics discussed this past Sunday during the next conversation. Please cast your vote for one of the following in your response to this email:

      Economic Development
      Youth & Education
      Arts & Culture

      For all reading here who are interested but not yet in contact with me, I can be reached at Feel free to answer the two questions above in your response as well.

  • A great day for the City of Newburgh!
    I was impressed with the turnout and the great ideas swirling around the room. Thanks to Arianna for this wonderful community initiative to get the city back on track! SO much enthusiasm and plans to keep things moving forward as more meetings are planned. Seeing not only local residents, but those looking to move to the area attend, speaks volumes. Newburgh is much loved and this meeting was just a drop of the real potential she has to once again show off all of her potential.

  • May I ask a question – what is the end game of all these sessions filled with wonderful ideas? So you discuss and document them. What happens next? How will they become implemented?

    I ask because someone mentioned (I think it was Michael) that there were scores of studies done and lots of documentation made. Grant money paid for some of it and it seems all of it now lays dormant.

    I sincerely hope one or several of you good folks run for office up there.

    • You are more than welcome to attend to suggest a game plan 🙂

      • Sorry, I thought I replied last evening but looks like my post disappeared so here’s the jist of it. My suggested game plan is implied in the last sentence of my previous post. One or several of you good folks need to run for office up there in order to implement these ideas.
        I think you all have great ideas and are well intentioned but I have no faith in the city ever acting on anything you suggest. Thus far your well intentnoed efforts can’t even get them to do a bulk pickup of garbage. One would think something like that would be a no brainer for them.

  • My suggestion (the last you will get from me here) is implied in the last sentence of my post. If one or several of you good folks do not attain positions of power in the city then all you will continue to do is discuss and document. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think the City is ready to act on anything you suggest, so unless you good folks get on the city council or in the mayor’s office nothing gets implemented.

    Your well intended citizen committees etc cannot even get them to pick up the trash much less do anything else. Unless you move from a position of advocacy to one of directly threatening their power via elections they will not act.

    • Been there, tried that(just search my name+newburgh and you’ll get a good gist of it). There is too much apathy for a change. The political realm here is so hopeless that even if we filled all the vacant and for sale properties with a united front, there would still be the majority of renters who vote based on the offer of a hot dog or an empty promise. You are 100% correct though. That’s why it’s going to be a long haul. It’s challenging and frustrating and it’s not for everyone. The numbers will never work. The politicians in office will continue to ignore common sense- they are in over their heads. The latest wave of newcomers will believe that they will change things in short order. Ironically enough that’s one of the great things about it. Ultimately there is no practical use for these conversations beyond the opportunity to network with others who are doing their part and enjoy hearing about their efforts. Expecting more is naive.

      • Michael,
        All these ideas they will come up with at the meetings will take money to implement as you know, which the city doesn’t have. Worse yet the Economic Development commission is MIA.

        So here’s the disconnect I’m having. Money is needed, yet I get the feeling not just ANY business idea is welcomed by the folks who attend these meetings. My suggestion on this blog for an auto plant or even something like the IBM setup in Beacon (entirely possible given what’s going on in other US small towns) was met with a “that’s not the ONLY way ….”. So what are they looking for?

        I think they’re looking for these ‘quaint’ businesses that are not large and will not ‘industrialize’ the city too much for their tastes. They’re in for a rude awakening. Those things simply do not produce enough tax revenue to fund the grandiose ideas they have. Nor is a $20K grant here and there enough.

        I found your blog and agree wholeheartedly with your thoughts on transportation. I had an idea which I was going to approach the city with but that may bring crowds they may not want. I will pop into your store one day when I’m up there to say hello. Meanwhile, keep working hard. You’ve got to fund those hot dog purchases 🙂


  • Peter there was one person there from the city council- she was just elected this past November- they have changed the gov’t stucture increasing the number on the city council. I know the mayor attended the first meeting Arianna held and hopefully she will be involved going forth. One other thought would be for those who attened the meetin to go to city council meetings and address their concerns and ideas. Unfortunately some of us don’t live in the city proper but still hold Newburgh dear to our hearts….

    • Thanks for the info Janis. Hopefully someone holds the feet of the elected officials to the fire. My wife and I love city of Newburgh, we really do. But we too are not living up there.