Germantown takes a SWOT at planning

GERMANTOWN–The town’s Comprehensive Plan Review Committee hosted a Public Vision meeting Saturday, November 19 at 10 a.m. in the Kellner Activities Building on Palatine Park Road.

The goal of the meeting is to get input from town residents for the committee’s review, and the method for doing that is referred to as a SWOT Analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Supervisor Joel Craig introduced the players Saturday. Alan J. Sorensen, president of Planit Main Street, Inc., in Rock Hill, Ulster County, is the committee’s planning consultant, chosen for his response to a request for proposals sent out by the town.

Committee members, all volunteers, are Norman Mintz and Jason Shelton, co-chairs; Larry Cosenza, founder and chief science manager at C2 Biotechnologies, LLC; Ralph DelPozzo, real estate agent and town assessor; Town Board member Andrea Foley; Faydra Geraghty, who served on the Germantown school board; John Kukon, a farmer in town; and Martin Lueck, proprietor of Central House Hotel.

Mr. Mintz stressed that he is not a planner, “but I work with planners and I know the process,” he said Tuesday. He knows Mr. Sorensen but has not worked with him. Mr. Shelton is general manager at GTel Teleconnections. “He’s new to town but a very hard worker,” said Mr. Mintz.

Mr. Sorensen led the meeting. Participants were divided into four groups of roughly the same number. Each group looked at Germantown with one of the topics: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Each group had a facilitator: Mr. Cosenza, Mr. Mintz, Mr. Shelton or Mr. Sorensen. And each group appointed a scribe, who wrote a list within each topic on 18″-by-24″ inch paper.

After about a half-hour of discussion, the large sheets of paper were hung on the wall. All participants had several red stickers, and they affixed these stickers to the ideas from all the topics that they thought were most important. The meeting was over by noon.

From the sub-group lists and stickers, Mr. Sorensen will draft a report that will eventually become the committee’s review. “The charts will speak for themselves in a certain way,” said Mr. Mintz.

The Comprehensive Plan that the committee is reviewing, drafted in 2007, was the result of months of work. This included a 25-question survey that went to 820 households in the town and was returned by 46% of them, a good rate. The review committee will not go to those lengths.

“The state wants towns to update their comprehensive plans every 10 years or so,” said Mr. Mintz. “What we’re working on will be an interim plan, with another one to be done in the future.” The Committee’s review will be ready in six to eight months, he predicted.

Both Supervisor Craig and Mr. Mintz said they hoped for a good turnout on Saturday. “And a good cross-section of the community,” Mr. Craig added.

“We wanted community input as soon as possible,” Mr. Mintz said of the committee, which has met only twice. “It was exciting for me to stand at the transfer station and hand out flyers for the meeting; it was a good chance to meet people.

“We want neighbors to get together and participate in this,” he said. “It’ll be fun, too. With refreshments.”

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