Roxbury business boost ushers in new era

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By Joe Moskowitz
The past was great, but Roxbury’s future might be just as bright or even brighter. The hamlet is in the midst of a major revitalization. And, it’s more than just a coat of paint here, a roof repair there. There are now more than a half-dozen new businesses that are opening or expanding in the hamlet. MARK Project Executive Director and Roxbury resident Peg Ellsworth says it took decades, but is happening right now.

Martin Lerner, who has an art gallery on Main Street, is opening a gift store and a coffee shop.
Lewis Wendell has purchased the former Enderlin Gallery building. It is being renovated and a portion will be a storefront for Jill Ribich’s Catskill Images photography business, and a preparation area for Rich Ellsworth’s already expanding ate-o-ate gourmet food truck business.

Across Main Street, Phil Lenihan is working on opening the EXIT gift shop. He has already opened Yesterday’s News, a newspaper and magazine stand, the Orphic Art Gallery, and the 8 Track Tape Museum. The MARK Project, which owns the Golden Seal Building, is getting United States Department of Agriculture approval to set up a facility so local producers can come in and can their fruits and vegetables. And there’s more on the way in Roxbury.

Lenihan owns the Corner Store building in Roxbury. He was drawn to Roxbury by its location, The Roxbury Arts Group, WIOX Radio and the Roxbury Contemporary Lodging. Lenihan says one cannot overstate the importance of The Roxbury in the revitalization of the community.

Piece of the puzzle
Lenihan feels he is both a benefactor of good timing, but admits that his investment is helping. But he credits the Town of Roxbury, the MARK Project, and the Catskill Watershed Corporation for making it financially possible.

Joe Piasek, the man who made WIOX Radio possible, says Roxbury expansion was just below the surface for years. He is not ashamed to give the radio station credit, but, as with everyone else, he also praises the Roxbury Motel and he says the community is blessed to have some very creative and patient people who are willing to work together.

Ellsworth says the rebirth goes back to 1978 and the formation of the Roxbury Arts Group. Innovative and unique are the words she uses to describe RAG, Kirkside Park, WIOX, Phil Lenihan’s work, and in bold letters, the Roxbury Contemporary Lodging. She says she has her fingers crossed. She says a number of years ago she though Roxbury was on the comeback trail. But this time around, the right kind of people own the buildings. People who are dedicated to the upstate lifestyle.

Time is right
One of them is Lewis Wendell. He bought a home in Roxbury two and-a-half years ago and thought it was his civic duty to get involved in historic preservation. The more he learned, the more he felt he had to buy the Enderlin Building to bring it back to life.

And what is inspiring Wendell? Again it’s RAG, WIOX, The Roxbury, and Lenihan. But he also mentions the area in general, including Plattekill Ski Center and shopping in Margaretville, which is what says is, “just a stone throw away.”

Roxbury did benefit from two Main Street grants and Ellsworth says that if the Roxbury rebirth takes off, it will help her convince the State of New York to help other area communities.