Greenport residents are getting together to form something they said the seafaring village is missing — its own civic group.
The foundation of the new Greenport Community Association, which held its first two meetings in January at the Floyd Memorial Library, was established when residents Penelope Rudder and Randy Wade met last year at a Greenport Board of Trustees meeting.
Rudder, who grew up in Pittsburgh and said she moved around a lot growing up, said she would join a local civic or community group at every place she lived to get to know her new neighbors.
“It was so important to feel like I was part of a community,” she said.
Wade, a longtime Greenport resident, said that when she and Rudder sat down last summer on a bench at Mitchell Park, the concept of forming the group started to take shape.
“This group could have existed 20 years ago, and it could’ve been great," Wade said. "There’s always a time for a community group.”
Aside from seeking to encourage social bonding for residents through meetings and potluck dinners, the residents who attended the group’s first meetings brainstormed ideas for improving environmental and quality-of-life issues in Greenport, such as improving water quality in Sterling Harbor and other areas; creating regulations ensuring that future development doesn’t disrupt the character of the village, such as on Main Street; and protecting the village’s green space from future development.
Wade, who has a background in urban planning, said the growing tourism and popularity of Greenport has increased residents' concern about what the future holds for the village.
“Greenport has become a very popular place, and prices have skyrocketed, so it is a critical time for defining what Greenport should be,” Wade said.
Mayor George Hubbard said that while he welcomes the civic group’s planned community involvement, there isn't much available space to develop land in Greenport. Village entities such as the zoning and planning boards and the Historic Preservation Commission usually screen any development on Main Street, Hubbard added.
The village is considering changing zoning to allow for mixed-residential and retail-use buildings downtown to create more housing, but Hubbard said he doesn't see future developments in Greenport going overboard.
“You’re not going to see a four-story solid brick building being put up on Main Street,” Hubbard said.
Rudder said the group is still formulating ideas and is likely to be more organized by August.
“I think everyone, when they move someplace, wants to feel like they really are part of something, and that it’s theirs,” Rudder said. “This is everyone’s group, and we want to make sure that all voices are heard. That’s how it will flourish.”
Getting to know you
- The Greenport Community Association will hold a community potluck at 6 p.m. March 23 at the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church at 768 Main St.
- Among the group's aims is the launch of community building activities to include vulnerable neighbors who might need help, such as seniors or families with young children, organizers said.
- Village Trustee Mary Bess Phillips, who attended one of the group’s meetings, said she is encouraged that the group is trying to “get the community to become more of a community." Phillips said it has felt at times like “the dividing line of who has lived in the community longer” came up in local issues.