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Roe Jan Library hears from older residents on various issues

Sep 24, 2019 12:00 pm
Diane Valden is reporting for The Columbia Paper on the results of the Relief Jansen Library's Community Conversations Initiative. The project began in April with a series of public conversations held at various locations in the community. A total of 54 people, residents of Ancram, Copake and Hillsdale, participated. All but four of the participants were over the age of 50. The library took on the initiative to become more familiar with the community it serves. The conversations revealed that people want a sense of connection and community spirit. Their’ concerns focused on connections, communications and economic challenges. Obstacles to connecting with others in the community include: the rural character of the place; differences between longtime versus new residents and weekenders versus full-time residents. When asked about communication, participants said they are unaware what is going on or where to get information. Economic challenges include: a lack of good paying jobs/skills to fill jobs; a lack of affordable housing; and a lack of public transportation. More specific concerns included the impact of short-term rentals on the housing market and the sense of community; and the lack of broadband access. What would make a difference? According to the findings, residents would like more places and events for diverse groups to come together; development of a local newsletter or a website listing services and events for the Roe Jan area; vocational training to help students develop job skills; and business development that caters to changing demographics such as seniors and second homeowners. Conversation participants said they do not trust their town board to act on issues of concern, but do have faith in the Hillsdale Safe at Home Committee, Ancramdale Neighbors Helping Neighbors, the Copake Grange and the library. The findings will be used to develop the library’s five-year strategic plan. Read the full story in The Columbia Paper.