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Planners suggest Main Street commercial improvements in Odessa, Burdett

    ODESSA, BURDETT—Residents in both Odessa and Burdett met with representatives from Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development and a planning firm to suggest ways to improve the commercial districts in each village.
    Two separate meetings were held Wednesday, June 29, in both villages.  Each drew about 13 people.  The purpose of the meetings was to present ideas from Peter J. Smith & Company, Inc., about improving economic growth and getting public input.
At Odessa’s meeting, planner Daniel J. Leonard said Peter J. Smith & Company met initially with residents in April to identify specific commercial concerns in each village.  He explained after that the planning company held focus groups, interviewed stockholders, and did a physical assessment of building conditions.
    The planning company created a draft plan of where the village could improve aesthetics and encourage tourism.  Leonard asked for input on the suggestions.   SCOPED Economic Development Specialist Brian Williams explained the planning company would take the new input from the June 29 meetings and prepare a final action plan by September.  He added it would then be presented to SCOPED and the villages.
    Leonard explained the action plan would make suggestions that the villages could implement in five, 10, 15, or 20 years.  It would explain what the village wants to see when it comes to styles and designs in future projects.  At the Odessa meeting, residents listed the village’s history, natural assets, and community as focal points in improving the commercial district.  Williams said based on what funding is available, SCOPED would try to help the villages reach some of the goals when the reports are done.
    The proposals at the June 29 meeting included a list of needs expressed by residents.  The list was access to food and groceries, better public space, better and safer streets and sidewalks, basic local services, trails and recreation, signage, and a sewer system.  Leonard said while it is important to cultivate businesses to attract tourists, the villages also need to sustain stores that meet the residents’ basic needs as well.
    The plan for Odessa focused economic development on Main Street.  Leonard said the area has strong character and aesthetic potential.  He pointed out the main buildings like the village hall, post office, Tompkins Trust Company building, and the former Village Take-Out.  However, Leonard said there are several vacancies and condition of the sidewalk is poor.
    He suggested creating a village center at the Main Street and Skyline Drive intersection.  Leonard said if the property on either side of Skyline Drive became available, it would be a good location for a small park and a paved plaza.  He also showed examples of improved sidewalk crossing.
    In addressing the concern about pedestrian safety, Leonard suggested making the road there more friendly to people on foot.  He explained parking spots and sidewalk  outcroppings are a proven way to slow down traffic.
    Another suggestion was creating connections between Odessa and other locations.  Leonard said the creation of a green path, the Lehigh Valley Trail, could connect Odessa and Burdett, encouraging visitors between the two villages.  He also said the Finger Lakes Trail could be extended from Montour Falls to Cayuta Lake, with Odessa in the middle.  He explained these connections drawing people to the village will increase tourism and spending.


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