Let’s face it—to get to Town Hall from the river villages you not only must overcome the physical barrier of Clausland Mountain, but make a political and cultural journey too. But it’s a trip well worth making.
At the risk of over-generalization, the Villages are tourist Meccas with their own governments and strong affinities for cafés, liberal politics, the Hudson River and NY City. Townsfolk visit often. In contrast, heading westward, in general, demographics shift towards a more suburban and conservative social scene.
Of course, our commonalities outweigh our differences, and one of the most important things we all share is Town Hall. More than just a physical building—actually two buildings, one built in 1961 and the other in 1993—Town Hall is a hub of local government, civic life and a cultural space, too. Come visit, and see for yourself.
Arriving at Town Hall, you walk on sacred ground. Town Hall, like most of Orangeburg, is built on the former massive Camp Shanks military complex that served as point of departure and return for millions of soldiers during WWII. You can learn much about Camp Shanks and Orangetown history from the many exhibits in Town Hall—photos, memorabilia, paintings, historic maps. We’ve even hung site plans for new construction projects that you may have noticed around town.
Most people come to Town Hall to pay taxes, go to court, obtain a document from the Clerk, or participate in one of the many committees that meet around the beautiful antique conference table in the “Old Court Room.” If this big old table could talk, imagine the stories it could tell! We hold staff meetings here, reporters sit here during board meetings, and our auditors set up shop here during their annual review of the accounts. Part of my job is to foster economic development by introducing business people to our town staff in charge of building permits, tax assessment, sewers and other matters directly impacting the construction process. Guess where we meet?
The Orangetown Museum installs temporary exhibits in the long hallway connecting the old and new parts of Town Hall. Two recent exhibits have focused on the Sparkill Creek watershed and the history of local fire departments. Right now we have an exhibit of marvelous posters by local high school students envisioning the future of the Rockland Psychiatric Center site. At the end of the hallway is the lobby for the new court room, as well as the police station and town clerk. Here our trusty court constables maintain order by greeting and calming anxious court visitors, and controlling contraband. The New Court doubled as our Emergency Operations Center during Superstorm Sandy, and it’s where we hold our annual “reorganization meeting” in January and other larger ceremonial events, such as Youth Court graduation. A bronze plaque in the lobby commemorates four police officers who died in the line of duty. Around the corner is Tappan sculptor Karen Worth’s bronze medallion summarizing the Town’s 300 year history.
It is an unfortunate fact that some Villagers don’t even realize they live in Orangetown! Yet, we all pay taxes to the Town, and benefit from sewers, police, road maintenance, lovely parks and other Town services available to all. I hope this virtual tour of Town Hall helps you to feel at home in Town Hall and comfortable seeking out the information and services you may need.
Andrew Y. Stewart, PhD, Town Supervisor, Town of Orangetown, 26 Orangeburg Rd, Orangeburg, NY 10962
845.359.5100 ext 2261 845.359.2623 FAX E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org