Elizabethtown has a history of economic ups and downs.
Some people remember the restaurants and motels that once lined Route 9 before the Northway was built. Others remember the big hotels that were filled with summer tourists.
But over the years, Elizabethtown's economy has changed.
In the past decade, Elizabethtown has lost more residents (11.5 percent) than any other Essex County town. We've also lost several small businesses, and our school population has dropped 25 percent. Fewer people mean fewer shoppers, taxpayers and workers.
What can we do to re-energize Elizabethtown and bring people back to our town? We need people to buy and remodel older homes, join our churches and volunteer in our fire department. We need new businesses, a laundromat, a car wash, more shops and affordable office space.
Several people have spoken to me about constructing new buildings or upgrading old ones, but these projects are held back by our lack of a sewer system.
In 2007, Elizabethtown received a grant for $1 million to pay for the planning and design of a wastewater treatment plant. That grant will expire on Dec. 21, 2012.
To date, 75 percent of the grant has been spent preparing for a green, eco-friendly system, located behind the golf course maintenance shed. The last part of the plan is getting easements from property owners. This work must be done in the next few months in order for the project to become shovel ready.
Most of the construction costs for the sewer will to be paid for with federal and state money. This is the only way the system can be made affordable for residents. But the town can't apply for grant money unless all the plans are complete.
In March, residents, businesses and landowners who own property in the Sewer District will receive information about signing easements, so the last part of the design can be completed. Once the easements are signed, Elizabethtown will be in the front of the line for future funding.
We are now partnering with Essex County, the largest customer of our wastewater system, to obtain federal and state money for the project. I have already met with Congressman Bill Owens and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward. In March, Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Douglas and I will meet Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand in Washington to push for help with this project.
Elizabethtown has been our hometown for 214 years, since 1798. It is our duty and responsibility to see that it prospers in the coming years.
The future of Elizabethtown is now in our hands.
— Margaret Bartley is the Elizabethtown town supervisor.