I recently was boating near the area around the pedestrian bridge at The Harbors at Haverstraw, and I saw a very unusual sight. The NY Waterway ferry had just pulled in and was beginning to unload passengers. I sat and watched from my boat as professionals of all ages (about 10 or so men and women) came off the ramp from the ferry and strolled by, along the promenade, across the lagoon bridge and to the front doors of their homes. Martin Ginsburg, since conceiving The Harbors atHaverstraw , has hoped that residents of the community would use the ferry as their main means of transport to and from work in Manhattan. The idea is clearly working.
Haverstraw is becoming a city, unlike others in Rockland County and unlike most suburban areas in the United States, that has the potential of economic success and social stimulation in a small compact downtown. The sprawl that plagues the United States leaves towns and cities with no center and sense of community. The Village of Haverstraw has introduced a mass transit component, the Haverstraw-Ossining ferry and the soon-to-be Haverstaw -Yonkers-Manhattan ferry. The introduction of this means of travel has sparked development near and around the ferry terminals. The downtown district of Haverstraw has received over 15 million dollars in funds for revitalization and has used this money to restore the historic facades of the area. New businesses and restaurants have grasped the idea of a "renewal" and are opening in the downtown. Rockland Community College recently opened an extention center in the heart of the downtown. It offers a variety of classes during the day and draws visitors to the area that are in need of specific credits offered there. There are plans to add a pop-art museum to the foot of Main Street. There has been an interest in creating aHaverstraw Bay Performing Arts Center on the shores of the Hudson in the village. The idea of a walkable and accessible city amidst the sprawl of the American suburb is the central theme of NewUrbanism and Smart Growth. Residents of Haverstraw will have dining, work, shopping and entertainment at their fingertips or within a five minute walk. This mixed-use development fuels a vibrant micro-economy by keeping a cash flow within the boundaries of the city. An active and vibrant community attracts visitors from elsewhere, promoting a positive influx of money that will likely stay in the downtown area.
Smart Growth and New Urbanism's goals are to keep development at the center of the downtown and business district. As Haverstraw continues to develop its core it will become an exciting destination to live, work and play. It will soon be a premier city on the shores of the Hudson River. Haverstraw now has the opportunity, with its Smart Growth initiative, to put its name on the map and reclaim its lost fame and prosperity.