BOLIVAR — The first step in an effort to revitalize Bolivar is complete, with a community and Alfred State College partnership ready for the next.
On Friday, the Allegany County Department of Planning announced that after six months of work the Town and Village of Bolivar have completed the community’s first strategic plan.
And moving forward, town and village officials have an agreement to work with Alfred State College’s Architecture Design Studio on a community visualization study this fall.
“Completing this Strategic Plan is an important step forward for Bolivar, especially in planning for the future of their community and going after future grant opportunities,” said Angela McKay, Assistant Director of Economic Development and Planning at Allegany County. “The Office of Planning was happy to assist the Town and Village in accomplishing this task and we look forward to supporting them in their upcoming project with Alfred State.”
The plan announced Friday provides a framework for development, community engagement and beautification, county planning officials said, taking stock of the community’s assets and proposing strategies for improvement.
Within five chapters, or action areas, that include “Business Development,” “Historic and Cultural Assets,” “Streetscape Improvements,” “Community Spaces and Recreation,” and “Community Pride,” Bolivar laid out its goals for growing its business and tourism economies; preservation its historic and cultural assets; and transforming its public spaces.
Copies of the plan are not yet available to the public, but officials said they are forthcoming.
In February, town and village officials created a joint Comprehensive Plan Committee to handle the work. Members included village Mayor Bob Mitchell, town Supervisor Ricky Gould, village Trustee Robert Salzer, LaRae Best and Chris Evans of the Bolivar Community Improvement Group, Tracie Edwards of The Hearing Aid Shop, Cathy Fuller of the Bolivar Free Library, and Dan Fuller, Halley Kottwitz and Robert Mountain of the Bolivar-Richburg Foundation.
The information compiled in the report will be used to help guide ASC students during the community visualization study, which will focus on “revitalizing the existing downtown business district into a vibrant public realm,” officials said.
The Architecture Design Studio course, taught by William Dean, is an Appalachian Teaching Project supported by the federally-funded Appalachian Regional Commission with the intent of building real-world leadership skills and immersing students in local communities.
The students under Dean have performed similar studies in towns and villages across Allegany, Steuben and Chemung counties, the most recent in Andover in 2018. A collaboration in 2010 with the village of Cuba and the nonprofit Cuba Friends of Architecture has guided redevelopment efforts in downtown Cuba, including the successful revival of the Palmer Opera House.
During the study, ASC students will conduct public meetings with Bolivar stakeholders and community partners; investigate and accumulate data on economic, social, environmental and historic characteristics of the community; illustrate the appropriate development to create a more socially vibrant, walkable and connected community; and present their findings at a community meeting.