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Village of Cambridge, NY

October 14, 2019

Village of Cambridge, NY Selected for Federal Planning Assistance

Process Looks to Leverage Outdoor Recreation to Improve Economy, Quality of Life for Residents

Cambridge, NY -- The Village of Cambridge, NY, announced that it was selected by the Environmental Protection Agency to receive planning assistance through a new program to help rural communities develop strategies and an action plan to revitalize Main Streets through outdoor recreation. The Village was one of ten Partner Communities selected from a national call for applications and the only municipality in New York State chosen.

Through the Recreational Economy for Rural Communities program, the Village, along with its partners and through robust community engagement, will create an actionable plan that will leverage recreational and cultural amenities, notably the new Cambridge Community Forest, for maximum benefit for residents and the surrounding rural communities, while promoting smart downtown development.

"We feel deeply honored that the Village of Cambridge was selected to receive this grant.", said Mayor Carman Bogle. "Creating a comprehensive plan to tie our natural resources together in a manner that promotes economic growth will be a huge boost for our community."

"Cambridge has tremendous recreational and cultural assets, especially for a Village of its size; this opportunity will help us make the most of them-to benefit residents, our businesses, and to attract visitors", said Village Trustee Alex Dery Snider, who was appointed by the Board of Trustees to serve as liaison between the Village and other parties through the Recreational Economy for Rural Communities Planning Assistance process. "It's been a wonderful, collaborative process so far, and I look forward to working together with our partners and the community, broadly, to develop this plan."

The Village of Cambridge

The Village of Cambridge is a compact, walkable community of about 2,000 people within the boundaries of the towns of Cambridge and White Creek, in southern Washington County. While facing similar challenges as other rural communities, the Village hosts a number of amenities rare among downtowns of this size: an arts and cultural center, an independent bookstore, a brew pub and music venue operating in the historic train station, active historic churches, a food co-op, and a farmers' market. The Village is also home to businesses including a motel, a small but full-service grocery store, drug store, hardware store, cafes and restaurants, antique stores, post office, barber shop/salons, gas stations and convenience stores and a few small retail thrift and craft stores.

In addition to the new Cambridge Community Forest, the Village of Cambridge has numerous potential recreational assets, including "hospital hill," a 120-acre property that has been off-limits to public access for recreation following the 2003 closure of the historic hilltop hospital complex; Woodlands Cemetery complex, the governance of which allows use as a recreational area; the Community Garden; pocket parks; and a six-acre parcel of forest and wetlands owned by Central School that has begun to be used to support outdoor experiential education.

"The timing of this planning assistance couldn't be better," said Renee Bouplon, Associate Director of the Agricultural Stewardship Association. "We are currently making plans about the future Community Forest, and getting broader perspectives-”what people are looking for, what they are concerned about-so this planning facilitation grant will dovetail nicely with our efforts in garnering input and participation to maximize the benefits to the community."

"This is an excellent educational resource and the school district is honored to be a part of this initiative," said Dr. Douglas Silvernell, Superintendent of Cambridge Central School. "The Cambridge Community Forest is an excellent resource for the school district, and we are honored to be a part of this initiative. This grant will enhance the CCS master site planning as well, and the timing is excellent for the community and the district"

The Recreational Economy for Rural Communities Process

The planning process will include significant community engagement, culminating in a weekend of workshops, likely in the first half of 2020.

"Through this award, residents of the Village of Cambridge will have a unique opportunity to work with seasoned planners and facilitators from the EPA to craft a collective vision for various green spaces in the community,", said Sarah Ashton, President of the Cambridge Valley Community Development and Preservation Partnership. "Like the Village and Town of White Creek comprehensive planning processes, we hope a diverse array of residents will share their ideas and become engaged in this participatory planning process."

Efforts will be led by a steering committee, which is currently being formed.

Announcements of meetings and opportunities to engage will be posted in local media and on the Village website, Village Facebook page, and Front Porch Forum. People may also sign up to receive email notice of public meetings, or email to be added to receive notice.