Following long-range planning efforts in the Town of Hamilton and Village of Hamilton, representatives of the Town, Village and Colgate University met in August 1998 to discuss opportunities for a cooperative project that would revitalize the local economy and enhance the quality of life for area residents.
Attending were the town supervisor, the chair of the town’s long-range planning effort; the mayor of the village; the University’s president, treasurer, communications director, a faculty member with a record of community projects and the consultants who had assisted with the town’s plan. That meeting was the first anyone could remember when Town, Village and Colgate University had convened to explore their common concerns.
The University offered to fund a majority share of start-up expenses, with contributions from the Village and Town. River Street Planning & Development was hired to provide professional staffing and oversight in the early going. An ad hoc group of interested citizens identified four priority projects for initial development.
Their initiatives included:
- creating programs to foster small business development;
- providing design help and funding to improve building facades and streetscapes in the five-block business district of downtown Hamilton;
- restoring the Village Green, center of many cultural and economic activities;
- establishing retail and marketing support for local arts and crafts.
The group proposed forming a community development corporation to provide stability and continuity for their efforts. All of their planning was done with an eye toward other needs in the area – both those identified in the Town and Village plans, and a new effort to foster business growth at the Village’s airport.
An ad hoc committee organized in October 1998 under the working title of The Hamilton Community Development Initiative was incorporated as the not-for-profit Partnership for Community Development on June 2, 1999. Their goal was “to develop and implement a community-driven revitalization strategy that taps into considerable yet under-utilized local assets …[in partnership] with New York State… to implement targeted economic and community development initiatives that will boost Hamilton’s role as a key economic, educational, civic and cultural hub in Central New York.”
This collaborative partnership between The Village of Hamilton, The Town of Hamilton and Colgate University, continues to thrive today, with a renewed sense of commitment to the Partnership’s mission. The PCD has matured as an organization, becoming an agent for change in the greater Hamilton area and has been recognized as a state model of municipal/academic collaboration by the Empire State Development Corporation.