Village turns eye to the West Side
By Kyle Adams Hudson-Catskill Newspapers | Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 1:30 am
CATSKILL — With several initiatives underway to reinvigorate Main Street, the village of Catskill is beginning to turn its attention to other areas, starting with West Bridge Street.
Village officials held a meeting late last month with business owners and other interested parties about what steps could be taken to make the street more vibrant and attractive for businesses, consumers and residents.
“Main Street is on the move,” said Village President Vincent Seeley. “We’ve got things moving in, we’ve got a couple new shops. So probably by the end of the summer, we’re going to start moving over and aim our focus on West Bridge Street again.”
As part of the West Bridge Street clean-up, the Catamount People’s Museum — the walk-through wooden cat sculpture — will be coming down. Catskill-based artist and builder Matt Bua built the museum in 2010 from scrap wood and recycled materials, and said he’s okay with the idea of taking it down. He plans to save the head, if only for himself if he can’t find another use for it.
“If that’s what they want, that’s fine,” he said. “It’s had a good run.”
Bua said he would also be happy to be part of a conversation about what will replace the cat, if anything.
The meeting late last month was spurred by concerns brought to the village board from those living and working on Main Street, said Seeley.
“We’ve received several complaints from business owners and landlords on the West Bridge corridor,” he said. “The atmosphere was not conducive to business, let’s put it that way.”
Both village officials and business owners hope these reforms, and possibly more to come, will begin to change that. Business owners welcome the village’s efforts but are reserving applause until they see some results, putting the burden of change more on the national economy than on any individual revitalization effort.
“I think as the economy turns, we’ll see more interest, the entrepeneurial spirit will start blooming again,” said Remaley. “You’ll see people come in who want to open up different kinds of shop and stores.”
And West Bridge Street is just the beginning, said Seeley.
“In planning for the future, we need to start to focus on the back streets and not ignore them,” he said. “We’re going to continue doing this. We’re going to go street by street in the village.”
To reach reporter Kyle Adams, call 518-943-2100, ext. 3323, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
and a response by Harry Matthews:"Taking down" the Catamount Peoples Museum on west bridge street would be, i believe, an act of shortsighted vandalism in the name of un-thought out "progress that would do more to move Catskill backwards not forwards. "The Cat" has become an iconic image of the village, something that draws in tourists and artists, as well as business to the village, and something that should not only be preserved, but should be fought for. As Matt Bua is an internationally known artist, as well as a local resident, having a piece of his work on display in the village should be a center piece of pride for us all. Maybe all that is needed is a little bit of weeding and planting of perennials to "dress it up" a little. To remove this beautiful sculpture, that is well built and not a hazard to the public, would only tell the community, the greater Hudson Valley, and the world, that Catskill does not have a vision for the future, that artists (particularly local ones) are of little concern to the village, and that creativity and artistic beautification are incongruous with care for our, and growth of, our community. "Don't kill the Cat!"