The recent outcry over the renaming of the Post Office is a narrow glimpse of a much bigger picture. At a time when it would seem that we would be rejoicing, many seem to be unhappy. A lot of good things have been happening recently, and over the past few years. We were awarded a $10 million DRI grant, the restoration of the Baker Fireman’s Fountain is completed, the Parkview expansion and restoration was achieved, and the Gateway construction has concluded and the Belva Lockwood Inn was born.
Looking back, Owego took a big hit after the Presidential Helicopter contract was cancelled and many jobs were lost. Not long after the 2011 flood devastated us. We pulled together and strangers helped strangers, strong friendships forged and we found out just how resilient our community could be. But it left its toll. Homes had to be taken down, those who managed to sell theirs did so at bargain basement prices and many had difficulty maintaining their homes. Our tax base dwindled and services were being cut.
Fortunately, the Village had a lovely downtown shopping area that brought folks into the area, which helped support us; but we needed more. The Mead’s transformed the old Newberry’s building into a successful antique mall. Ike and Julie Lovelass purchased 13 Lake St., which had been empty for years. They renovated it, moved in and created The Owego Kitchen.
Marty moved the Farm House Brewery to Lake Street, to name a few. Outside the Village, Dr. Cook’s old office was transformed into MJ’s. Recently the owners had to purchase land to expand their parking lot because of booming business. All of this has helped create jobs, many for local teenagers, and brought people from outside Owego into town, which helps increase tax revenue and keep local businesses thriving.
Now, $10 million of state money has been awarded to Owego. We are indebted to those who worked on this effort without most of us even knowing about it. The application process was transparent, and a committee made up of members of our community made recommendations to the state and everyone had the opportunity to provide their input on numerous occasions. Some of the awards I like and some I don’t; but it is all money coming back to our community that will help us to continue to grow and survive.
We are lucky that Owego is showing the signs of bucking small town decline. Change is never easy and a community divided will get us nowhere. Let’s keep moving onward and upward together.