Durham Connect is a community group that was set up after the town board of Durham, NY, adopted the Durham 2020 Comprehensive Plan.

(The Comprehensive Plan, which was created to guide Durham’s development over the next five to ten years, was the result of two years of work by a committee of Durham residents and town board members. Click here for the 45-page Plan and here for just the 5-page recommendations section.)

Durham Connect provides a framework within which volunteers can help implement the Comprehensive Plan’s recommendations.

Durham Connect is led by a Chair and a Deputy Chair, with one of these being from the town board and one from the community. More volunteers will be very welcome.

The Plan’s summarized recommendations, and Durham Connect’s achievements thus far, are as follows.

  • Improve Communications: Recommendation: Find new ways to inform residents of community developments. These should include significantly enhancing the town’s website, publishing a town newsletter, publishing an annual report, and holding an annual town meeting to present the annual report and receive feedback from residents.

Achievements: The first four issues of the twice-a-year town newsletter were printed and mailed in November 2020, May 2021, November 2021 and May 2022 to Durham’s 1,800 property owners, and emailed to the town’s email list. The town’s first two annual reports were published in May 2021 and May 2022. The first one was discussed at the town’s first annual town meeting, held on June 5, 2021, with 75-80 attendees. The second one was discussed at the town’s second annual meeting, held on June 11, 2022, with 65 attendees. A proposal and a master plan for enhancing the town website were submitted to the town board in November 2021.

  • Increase community activities: Recommendation: Organize and encourage a range of community activities. These activities should include providing community meetings, classes and sporting activities; encouraging a local resort to permit Durham residents to use its swimming pool; encouraging the provision of trails in Durham that can be used for hiking, biking, etc.; organizing a farmers’ market; and more.

Durham Connect has established community groups to hear talks on local history topics, to go hiking on local trails, and to meet at a coffee shop to chat about life in Durham. For further details, see the Home page.

  • Enhance economic development: Recommendation: Work with local business leaders and organizations for the development of a critical mass of retail, restaurant and other businesses within Durham. In particular, encourage the provision of a medical facility within Durham.

Achievements: A flu-shot clinic took place in Oak Hill in October 2020 and in East Durham in September 2021.

  • Advocate for improved broadband: Recommendation: Work for fast, reliable and affordable broadband internet service that can be accessed by every residence and business within Durham. Work also for improved cell phone service.

Achievements: In December 2020 a free WiFi hotspot was set up in the town barn parking lot that can be accessed 24/7 by multiple simultaneous residents. In October 2021 a report with detailed findings and recommendations regarding broadband availability within Durham was presented to the town board. It showed that 40% of Durham’s residents lack access to wired broadband. The administration of Greene County found the report very helpful, and plans to use government funds that it has received to make broadband available to all Durham residents who cannot currently access it.

  • Improve historic preservation: Recommendation: Encourage the development of a unified approach to historic preservation.

Achievements: Two training sessions have been conducted on how to clean and repair Durham cemetery headstones. Data is being compiled for enhanced history pages at the town’s website.

In November 2021, Durham Connect was presented at the Greene County Legislature with an Ellen Rettus Planning Achievement Award. The submission for this award was sent in by legislator Patty Handel, who wrote that Durham Connect arose out of a desire that the Comprehensive Plan not “just sit on a shelf collecting dust,” and added: “Durham Connect is an innovative example of how a town government and residents… can work collaboratively to further their shared goals.”

For recent reports to the town board, click here.

For the Durham Connect Facebook page, which lists upcoming community events, click here.

Durham Connect actively encourages more Durham residents, both full-timers and second-home-owners, to participate in this important work. We’d love to receive volunteers such as an accountant, a website designer, a print layout designer, a proposal-writer, a history researcher, a newsletter-writer, a community events organizer, a sports team leader, a medical facility planner, a farmers’ market organizer and a local business outreach person, as well as people whose biggest strengths are enthusiasm and a desire to contribute. To find out more, please contact Bernard Rivers, Durham Connect Chair (bernard.rivers@gmail.com) or Joan Breslin, Durham Connect Deputy Chair and town board member (breslinj@crcsd.org).