By Charlene Lovett
Claremont’s history of being an economic powerhouse in the Industrial Age has made the transition to the Information Age particularly difficult. Reviving the vibrancy that once was, requires engagement, innovation and investment. Today, we are experiencing all of this, indicating that Claremont is well on its way to becoming a vibrant community in the 21st century.
Citizen engagement is critical in navigating the opportunities and challenges that face any municipality over time. An indicator of this is the willingness of citizens to volunteer their time and energy to serve their community. When Councilor Jeremy Zullo submitted his resignation in June due to an unexpected job opportunity, the city council had to fill the vacancy within a short period of time to be in compliance with the city charter. Within a few weeks six citizens applied for the position, two eventually withdrawing due to family concerns. Though only one applicant could be selected, all conveyed their commitment to the community and a desire to contribute.
Change in the life cycle of a municipality is inevitable, and innovation is key to embracing those changes in a way that creates opportunity. Claremont is and has long been known for its innovation in the manufacturing sector. However, that innovation has spilled over to a multitude of other sectors to include, most recently, the cultural arts. On July 10, the city council approved the sale of a building, vacant since 1993, in the downtown district to the Claremont Development Authority (CDA). The CDA will be working with the West Claremont Center for Music and Art to transform the building into a school of music adjacent to the opera house.
When people and organizations recognize value, they are willing to invest their resources. This year, Claremont has seen a number of new businesses open, and other businesses expand. Currently, McGee Toyota is preparing to build on a new and larger site on Charlestown Road. The local housing market is experiencing a huge increase in real estate transfers. Sullivan County Registrar of Deeds, Janet Gibson, reported that Claremont led the county in real estate transfers in March, April and May of this year. According to the real estate agents with whom Ms. Gibson spoke, people are coming from Lebanon to buy property they can afford.
Rebuilding the vibrancy that once existed in Claremont has been a long-term goal. It has taken time and commitment, requiring engagement, innovation, and investment from all sectors of our community. However, the signs are here that we are achieving success. Citizens want to serve and improve their community. Organizations and businesses are working together to find innovative ways to bring new life to the downtown district. Finally, people and companies are investing their resources, recognizing the value of being here.
To the many who have joined us on this journey, thank you for your contributions. To those yet to join, we invite you to participate. Together, we are transforming Claremont to be a vibrant community in the 21st century and a place of choice in which to live, work and play.
Charlene Lovett is the Mayor of Claremont and welcomes your feedback. Please email questions, comments or concerns to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.