BEEKMAN, N.Y. -- Barbara Zalauf has a dream for Beekman, one of Dutchess County’s fastest growing towns, and all it will take is a little infrastructure to make it come true.
Okay, maybe a change in the economic climate couldn’t hurt either.
Zalauf, who was elected to her second term as supervisor of the bucolic community in November, is pinning her hopes for more growth on plans for the town center, a three-mile-or-so stretch along Route 55.
Right now, the Republican says, there are a sprinkling of businesses along the commercially zoned corridor. But a gas station here, and a pizza joint there, aren’t really going to cut it in her vision for the future.
“The basic things we have,” Zalauf told the Daily Voice recently.
Zalauf herself is a local businesswoman; she owns an auto body shop in town with her husband, Ray, a former fire chief, and spends park of her working day acting as an independent auto appraiser for many insurance companies.
Beekman is a bedroom community, she says, where folks sleep but shop elsewhere, like where they work, usually Westchester and New York City.
The town has a supermarket, but the next nearest one is, she says, 10 miles away. It has a bank, a “huge” library, and a diner, too. And its recreation programs and playing fields are second to none, she says
What it lacks is a centralized spot where, for instance, parents could park, drop their kids off to play soccer and then stroll over to a coffee shop for a cup of Joe or to a bookstore to peruse the paperbacks.
A hardware store and some office space for doctors and lawyers are also on Zalauf’s wish list.
Zalauf, who sat on the Town Board for more than 10 years, says her vision for Beekman’s future is more mom-and-pop than big box stores, although she says she thinks the town has a big enough population to support something along the lines of an Adams Fairacre Farms, a local farmer’s market chain.
So what’s holding Beekman back? Lack of sewer and water infrastructure, says Zalauf. (Residents and businesses alike use wells and septic fields.)
That, and the current economic climate, will be addressed in the town’s comprehensive plan, which is being updated, the supervisor says.
Meanwhile, Zalauf, who has two grown children with successful careers of their own, says she is just happy to be Beekman’s chief dreamer.
“As long as they (the town’s residents) will have me, I’ll be here,” she says.