Voters came out in force Tuesday and overwhelmingly rejected an effort to dissolve the village of Middleburgh, 344 to 71.
Matthew Avitabile, who would have been the village’s last mayor had the proposal been approved, said more people came out to vote Tuesday than in the last mayoral election.
“This is a big vote of confidence in the direction the village is going,” Avitabile said. “Middleburgh has a wonderful past, and I think that Middleburgh has a wonderful future ahead of us, and the voters know that.”
A petition signed by about 140 people and submitted by former mayor Gary Hayes forced the referendum under state law. Hayes did not return a call late Tuesday.
Hayes characterized the village as an added layer of government and highlighted the cost savings residents inside the village would see if dissolution were successful.
Residents earlier Tuesday cited a variety of reasons for their vote. Some said the as-yet unknown amount of savings the dissolution could yield isn’t worth the loss of a historic village. But the potential savings is one reason Patrice Kindl said she voted “yes” to dissolve the village
“It’s not an easy choice,” Kindl said after learning her husband, Paul Roediger, voted “no,” essentially cancelling out her vote.
“I’m really happy with the way the village has kept its identity,” Roediger said.
Several residents brought memories of last year’s historic celebrations of the Schoharie Valley’s settlement to the polls.
“I’ve lived here all my life,” said Cliff Campbell, 85.
The villages of Middleburgh and Schoharie both trace their roots back to Palatine Germans who came to settle in the valley in 1712. Both hvillages eld massive celebrations last year to honor 300 years of history, Campbell said.
“And they want to throw it all away?” he asked, rhetorically.
Charles Slater, another former Middleburgh mayor, said he can be counted as one of those “who have a feeling for a community” like Middleburgh. He, too, found it odd the village would disappear after celebrating 300 years.
“Last year, we had our 300th anniversary, a beautiful celebration. And now they’re going to do away with it? That’s nonsense,” he said.
Ron Connors was optimistic his village would survive the polling as he walked into Town Hall.
“It’s not going anywhere,” he said.
He said he’s not interested in changing anything — a sentiment he attributed to his age.
“We’ve lived 52 years in this beautiful village,” he said.
Diana Adkins said she was suspicious of the motives of those who would promote dissolution.
“It’s not to serve the people of Middleburgh,” said Adkins, who, along with her husband, Tim, voted “no.”
“We need the village’s help,” Tim Adkins said.
Mavis Miller said the village survived the latest flood and 300 years of history.
“After 300 years, why would you want to do it now? Let’s bring it back,” she said.