Cazenovia Area Community Development Association Addresses Needs of Amish, Cyclists in Signature Projects
As route 20 runs through downtown Cazenovia, the common sight of local shops and cafes is now diversified with a sprouting garden of bikes in front of the library. Across the street at Buyea’s True Value, a horse and buggy waits at a hitching rail for its Amish owners to appear with tools and supplies.
The bike rack and hitching rail, part of the Cazenovia Area Community Development Association’s (CACDA) two signature projects for 2014 and 2015 – BikeCaz and Our Amish Neighbors – are building quite literal connections within the community.
With the help of a Community Foundation grant, CACDA recently installed three bike racks and two hitching rails in the village.
The grant was made possible by the P-D Family Fund, administered by the Central New York Community Foundation. Originally established in 1970 by Robert & Winifred Pond, this multi-generational family fund has supported local causes for more than four decades. It is currently endowed at the Community Foundation to support, in-part, nonprofit organizations that serve the Cazenovia region.
Executive Director Lauren Lines explained how CACDA identifies common priorities among the organization’s different committees, which can range from agriculture to recreation. In 2014, its board launched BikeCaz, a community initiative to promote cycling around the Cazenovia area.
BikeCaz inspired a number of programs, including a children’s bike safety day held in May to distribute helmets, provide child ID cards and educate approximately 75 children about safe biking. Additionally, CACDA sponsored a fat tire bike race at Cazenovia’s annual winter fest and administers a page on ridewithgps.com featuring local rides.
“We definitely have seen an increase in people cycling both for as a means of transportation and recreation,” Lines said.
To meet the needs of an increasing number of local cyclists, CACDA installed the three bike racks. The racks function not only as a means of bike security, but as public art. The rack in front of the library was designed to be “whimsical,” according to Lines, with a garden of books and bikes emerging from the ground.
“The hope is that they’re eye catching so that people notice, so it’s not just putting up your typical bike rack that you could drive by and never notice it was there,” Lines said. “But people will notice them and then maybe they’ll say, ‘Oh, I could ride my bike into town to go to the farmer’s market!’”
The second signature project , Our Amish Neighbors, is an initiative that works to welcome the Amish community into Cazenovia. A community of Amish families settled in the Madison County area nine years ago; the community has now grown to nearly 20 families.
The initiative began with a community meeting at the library during which more than 150 members of the Cazenovia community attended. Curiosity in the Amish way of life and faith prompted dialogue among members of the community.
“What was even more heartening for me was the number of Amish that came,” said Jimmy Golub, board member and chair of the Our Amish Neighbors initiative. “They didn’t just send a couple of people that had to go- all of the families wanted to be a part of it.”
Both Golub and Lines noticed an increase in dialogue after the community discussion. Yet the second part of the initiative, installation of the two hitching rails, also made a strong impact on Amish individuals in Cazenovia.
The two hitching rails built outside of Buyea’s True Value and behind the Tops Market not only facilitate Amish travel within downtown Cazenovia, but according to Golub, they also form a deeper connection among residents.
“It sends a message that we as a community want (the Amish) in our community and we want to make it easy and we want to do what we can. And I think that was probably more important than the hitching rails themselves.”
For more information about CACDA and its ongoing projects, visit cacda.net.