When Heather Bagshaw left Catskill for university, she imagined that visiting family would be her chief reason to return.
Two decades years later, she’s the Village President, a role that marries her passion for people and her interest in persuading others of the town she couldn’t stay away from.
“I want people to feel pride when they say: ‘I grew up in Catskill.’ I want them shouting it. I’m shouting it,” Heather says.
“When I came back, I wasn’t going to stay. But, the more I got involved, the more I felt it was my calling.”
Catskill work perks
Within months of her return, local community groups invited Heather’s participation, finding ample use for her marketing and leadership skills.
Perks like being able to walk to work, easily check-in on friends and family and the area’s natural beauty became increasingly hard to resist.
In 2016, Heather was elected Village President — a position she’s thrilled to hold at a time when the collaborative efforts of so many leaders before her are easily apparent, she says.
“[Previous Village President] Vinny Seeley was pivotal to bringing more storefronts to Main St. There’s now a great dynamic there.”
The arrival of new organizations including Lumberyard are stoking such excitement that Heather says the buzz reminds her of the Catskill of her youth.
Lumberyard’s groundbreaking ceremony in particular made her nostalgic for street parties of her youth that used to end with a band performing on the courthouse steps, she says.
Weekenders favor Catskill as their second home
The recent buzz about Catskill is supported by statistics which illustrate the volume of second home owners coming to the region.
About 27% of Greene County’s housing units are owners’ second homes, a 2015 Greene County Department of Economic Development & Planning report states. Up to 5% of those second homes are in Catskill.
The collective spending power of the group is equivalent to about 4,450 full-time Greene County residents.
Heather gets it: “there are tons of good reasons weekenders and travellers find Catskill as appealing as year-round residents,” she says.
In the months ahead she expects to welcome more new restaurants, cafes, shops as well as residents.
Recalling her introduction to a couple she met, Heather explains their recent relocation from Texas to Catskill: “They visited a friend and decided to move here, they just loved it.”