Middletown Comprehensive Plan heading to second phase

By Matthew J. Perry
The Town of Middletown Planning Board, working in concert with a consulting planner, is heading towards the second phase of overhauling the town’s comprehensive plan.
“The first phase, which focused on the current conditions and primary issues facing the community, is pretty much complete,” says Nan Stolzenburg, AICP, who has helped to draft plans for three other Delaware county municipalities. “By March, I expect that we’ll be dealing with the second question outlined by the plan, which is where the town would like to be in the future and what goals it hopes to achieve. After that, we’ll move on to defining strategies for attaining the goals.”
Stolzenburg presented the board with a synopsis of the work done so far at its monthly meeting last Thursday. She is expected to address the board again in March.
The comprehensive plan, often described as a road map, is meant to flesh out amorphous concepts such as a town’s character, vision and priorities by using statistics, maps, demographics and economic analysis. While it is not a legal document, it can be used to draft and revamp zoning ordinances and municipal laws. It is meant to be referred to and used by community leaders and citizens alike. Stolzenburg says she has conferred with both civic and business leaders while crafting a working definition of where the town is and where it hopes to go.

Needs leadership
“A great deal goes into a comp plan, but it’s just a piece of paper if a town’s leadership doesn’t use it,” Stolzenburg said on Monday.
The planning board expressed both admiration and satisfaction with Solzenburg’s work so far. When discussing the challenges involved in creating an effective plan, a common theme among board members was communication—or the lack thereof— between town officials, as well as between villages and the greater township. That issue was also raised in a resignation letter recently submitted by long-time board member Pete Palen.
“A lot of people don’t know that there is any Middletown,” said one board member.
Stolzenburg agreed. “I think there’s a natural inclination to assume that the Village of Margaretville is the center of things.” She noted that the comprehensive plans of each village should have natural tie-ins with the town’s plan, but that communication and coordinated effort are essential to the usefulness of those plans.
Middletown’s plan was financed by a Catskill Watershed Corp. grant of $40,000. Ideally, the plan will remain current for the next 10 to 15 years.
Details of the plan can be viewed, along with a base map, at Stolzenburg’s Web site, planningbetterplaces.com. Comments can also be submitted to this Web site.