New Family Theater project gains momentum
building project underway
grocery store lost
Park takes shape
A Dam Site with
Family Theater project gains momentum
the group formed in October, 1999, 2000 was the year the Mt. Morris
Theater Advocates established momentum for the programs which
will someday hopefully result in the reopening of the New Family
Theater. The group envisions the theater hosting not only movies,
but also musical performances and other live entertainment.
deteriorated building had been closed since the early 1980s and
owned by the Village of Mt. Morris since 1994. There were always
vague ideas for restoration but, until the Advocates were established,
the village was not very successful in securing contributions
or interest for the restoration. The Advocates have undertaken
promotional shows fours times yearly at United Church, as fundraisers
and consciousness raisers for the theater project. The Advocates
have also solicited theater pledges and donations from a number
of local and outside businesses and individuals.
group is tabulating a survey of community interest in their project,
conducted with assistance of SUNY Geneseo College of Business
intern Kelly Marrone.
During 2000 Theater Advocates were twice
given votes of confidence by the Village Board of Trustees, which
fully endorses the group's efforts.
building project underway
the May 18, 1999 approval by district voters, Mt. Morris Central
School commenced a major $25.2 million building project with a
June 25, 2000 groundbreaking. Work is expected to continue until
January of 2002 under the direction of general contractor Kirchner
When the project is complete, the school will have
a new gymnasium (separate from, but connected to, the existing
school complex by a skyway), eight new classrooms for math, English,
social studies and foreign language, two new computer labs, a
long distance learning lab and three new rooms which will accommodate
special BOCES classes. Existing facilities will be upgraded with
a library modernization, cafeteria expansion and separation, expanded
and improved music area, an all weather track, new soccer fields,
expanded pool area with bleachers, security improvements, electrical
enhancements, roof replacement, a new heating plant, auditorium
air conditioning and new windows. The overall parking area will
be doubled, with much of the new parking near the sports facilities.
The new school building which will emerge from the project will
be a more logically configured entity, concentrating administrative
functions at a single entry area and having a natural separation
of high school and elementary functions.
have been coordinated to minimize impact upon 2000-2001 school
activities. The new parking area was completely in place by September,
while chain link fencing separates construction areas from active
school areas. Bus and vehicular traffic have been able to utilize
the Bonadonna access without interference from construction vehicles,
which are utilizing the School Street access.
grocery store lost
Morris lost its only large grocery store in 2000 when Jubilee
on Route 408 shut down. In February. Fleming Corporation announced
it was looking for a buyer for the store because the company was
henceforth going to involve itself in only the wholesale part
of the grocery business.
When no buyer could be enticed, a June
9 store closing date was posted.
The plaza owners subsequently
appeared before the Mt. Morris Village Board, expressing their
willingness to cooperate with any program or policy which would
encourage a new grocery store owner to occupy the building. Unfortunately,
the building has remained vacant for the balance of the year,
with no further rumors of a prospective tenant.
Park takes shape
was the year ex-Marine Roger Yencer's vision for a Mt. Morris
Veterans Memorial Park took form.
In the autumn of 1999, Yencer
had started imagining the memorial occupying the strip of idle
land alongside Main Street at the south end of the village. Before
the snow flew, he had already made arrangments to purchase the
parcel from Carol Monteleone and had set to work with his bulldozer.
The park would collect the community veteran's memorials from
their widely scattered locations and bring them allthe honor
roll at Town Hall, the granite memorial stone at the library,
Roger's own Vietnam memorial at Erie Canal Parkto this one place.
And there would more. Illuminated walkways, flags, podiums and
a five point star all took shape in Yencer's mind, sharing the
theme of the five branches of the U.S. military and the five great
conflicts of the 20th century.
As the idea for the park was promulgated,
individuals and groups got involved and contributed what they
were able. RG&E and New York State arranged for a crucial strip
of Greenway land to be incorporated into the park; the state Office
of Parks & Recreation leant landscape architect Andrew Giarrizzo
to formalize the walkway and monument designs; DOT provided a
drainage culvert and engineering advice; the Village of Mt. Morris
provided DPW crew assistance and subsequently agreed to accept
ownership of the park; Myron Brady provided top soil and Red Kennedy
provided the truck to bring the soil to the park; Ken's Tree Service
moved the Vietnam Memorial to its new location; neighbors Bea
Sank and Cliff Vanderveer made sure the new grass was watered;
the VFW and Legion gave permission to move their memorialsand
offered their enthusiastic support; Roger's own construction crew,
including sons Roger and Robert, put forth their best efforts
to make sure that the masonry work at the park was exceptional,
and Roger and his sons created the five point star centerpieceYencer
dipping into his own pocket for the $2,000 bronze letters.
Thanksgiving time Mrs. George Riordan, mother of ‘Doc' Riordan,
who is one of the four Marines named in Yencer's Vietnam memorial,
drove from New Hampshire to pay a quiet visit to the new park.
Meanwhile, a memorial brick campaign is underway, in which supporters
can assist with park expenses and at the same time memorialize
a family member or friend who served in the military.
is not yet in place at the new parkbut will be by June, 2001,
when there will be a dedication ceremony, Yencer predicts, which
will be unprecedented in its magnitude and meaning.
A Dam Site with
Morris: A Rich Past, A Bright Future. This newly adopted motto
exists alongside one created many years ago for obvious reasonsMount
Morris: The Best Town by a Dam Site.
Mottoes are designed to
inspire and give some clue of what a community is all about. I
believe Mount Morris has met the test.
Many Mount Morris residents
were rich in the monetary sense during the first hundred years,
beginning with incorporation of the village in 1794. Shortly after
the Revolutionary War, in the early days of the village, most
of the "new" people were Britishintegrating with the Seneca Native
People. Stands to reasonmany in England still had strong ties
to the colonies, and many naturally assumed government leadership
positions in our fledgling village. New people became wealthy
with land purchases and subsequent sales. Witness the stately
and beautiful homes in the South Main Street, State and Eagle
Streets, and Murray Street Historic Districts; and in the Commercial
Downtown Historic District, with buildings exhibiting a range
of mid-to-late 19th and early 20th century architectural styles
including Commercial Vernacular, Italianate, Neo-Classical, and
Predominantly a rural agrarian community during
the early 19th century, Mount Morris grew rapidly during the middle
of the century as a stopping off point along the now defunct Genesee
Valley Canal. A number of grand hotels (some are now residences)
flourished during this time.
Then, the poor but hard working
Irish, who emigrated to our village in large numbers during the
1840s to escape the potato famine in their home country, attained
positions of power, influence and economic comfort in Mount Morris
over the following fifty years.
Southern Europeans dominated
the immigration wave during the latter part of the 19th century
and the first decade of the 20th. Many poor but hard working Italians
from Sicily and Southern Italy settled in Mount Morris, taking
less skilled jobslike the immigrants before themin the booming
railroad industry and vegetable canning companies. Those with
an inclination toward entrepreneurshipagain, like those earlier
émigrésopened businesses in furniture, clothing, and grocery
with the same eye toward more economic power.
What a history
to treasure in Mount Morris! A rich pastboth in dollars and in
the merger of European cultural traditions into a "Melting Pot."
And, at the end of the year 2000, we still have a lot of which
to be proud! The Mills Mansion, home of our Historical Society,
sponsors educational visits for students in area schools and hosts
events that attract people from surrounding townsa great showcase
for Mount Morris. Our school system, now in the process of expanding
its facilities in a building program to keep up with the demands
of stricter state standards, is a progressive one. Our veterans
have come together this year to create a beautiful, new Veterans
Park. The New Family Theatre Advocates are now into their second
year of planning, with enthusiastic determination, to rehabilitate
and revive the Art Deco structure as a multi-use performing arts
center. The property owners in the Downtown Business District
who have made improvements in their buildingsrestoring them to
historic beauty with financial assistance from the Facade Programshould
hold their heads high. Our Police Department, for balancing their
vigilance in traffic enforcement and arrests for serious crimes
with efforts in more developmental areas such as youth programs
and officer training, deserves recognition. A Village of Mount
Morris Web Site is up and running, with the potential for expansion
in many areas.
At the end of the year 2000, we have a bright
future! But we still have a ways to go right now in some areas.
The streets and sidewalks in the Downtown Business District need
to be on a regular cleaning, vacuuming and washing schedule. We
need to see restoration of and improvements in the remaining storefronts
of the Downtown Business District that are still eligible for
assistance from the Facade Program. We need a grocery store replacement
for Jubilee. We need to capitalize on our location and market
our community as a center for tourism. We need a village board
that projects a vision for our future.
Despite our challenges
and differences, there is something unique about a small villagethe
feeling of togetherness, of belonging and the warmth of most people.
Happy New Year!