Middleburgh is feeling pretty proud.
The small village, still on the long road to recovery from historic flooding less than two years ago, took a few hours Saturday to show off the reasons it has to feel good. New murals, a new pavilion, a park and the unveiling of a new fountain were just some of the promoted sites during the first Middleburgh Pride Day. The day also included a scavenger hunt, a barbecue and games for kids.
A tour of the different locations kicked off at Creekside Park, home to a new pavilion built with a state Main Street Grant and work by local BOCES students. Bill Morton, a village trustee and one of the brains behind the day, said the pavilion and adjacent bed of wildflowers symbolize the rebuilding efforts.
“This was filled with rubble, but now you can see the wildflowers coming in,” he said.
Tressa McCabe, who used to live on the piece of property where the pavilion was built, was happy to see the land put to good use. Taking part in the walking tour throughout the village, she said it was important to remind people of all the things people had to be proud of in the village.
In addition to fostering community pride, Mayor Matthew Avitabile said the day is also being used to foster economic development by showing off the most attractive features of the village. He added that the event was the result of the type of public-private partnerships that will be needed in the future for the village to grow.
Part of making Middleburgh more attractive, to both tourists and businesses, has included the planting of wildflowers at the entrance to the village and large murals depicting local history that are visible as you drive down Main Street.
Tressa McCabe’s son, David, hoped the day’s focus would help remind people why Middleburgh is worth investing time and energy in.
“There has been a lot of rebuilding since Irene. and it is has come a long way, but it has a long way to go,” he said.
One person who hasn’t lost the attachment to Middleburgh is Don Durfee, who was forced out of his home of more than three decades by tropical storms Irene and Lee almost two years ago and didn’t move back to the property until six weeks ago. He had purchased another home in the interim, thinking he would never come back to the home that had been hit with more than three feet of water and needed to be completely gutted on the inside.
“But my heart is here,” Durfee said. “[The temporary home] just never felt like home. This always felt like home.”
With flood insurance and his own handiwork, he was able to slowly make the repairs necessary for the house to be habitable.
He said his own rebuilding efforts have been mirrored in the village, which has demonstrated its own positive momentum.
Durfee’s son, Matt, also performed during the day with his two-man folk band, Palatypus, which also features Mike Poulopoulos. Other scheduled performers included the Cosby Gibson Band, Sawyer Fredericks, The Blackwell Sinners and Black Mountain Symphony.
Also on display Saturday were two economic-development efforts, with stands set up by Green Wolf Brewery and Extreme Property Maintenance, two new businesses that were attracted to the area. Avitabile said Green Wolf was wooed away from Schoharie with a grant and an interest-free loan, while Extreme Property Maintenance was the product of a Facebook connection he made.
“We’ve been aggressive about trying to get ahold of anyone who can bring capital and good ideas into the community,” he said.
The efforts seemed to be working Saturday, with Main Street packed with potential customers and shops up and down the street ready for their business.
Looming over the positive elements touted Saturday is the threat of more flooding, which hit again in June and reminded people how important ongoing mitigation efforts are.
Avitabile noted that efforts to prevent future flooding are being advanced at all levels of government, with the village, county and state working on projects.
The development of the community continues this fall, when Morton said they’re hoping to unveil a small monument of local Revolutionary War hero Timothy Murphy.