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June 28, 2013

Sharon Springs mayor has lots of ideas

By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Just elected as the mayor of Sharon Springs, Doug Plummer is brimming with ideas for helping the village to achieve its full potential as a small village with an abundance of cultural offerings in a relaxing and charming setting.

“If you are willing to get the permits and do the work and roll up your sleeves, you can really accomplish anything you set your mind to in small-town America,” Plummer said in an interview Thursday.

It was a day when Sharon Springs was bursting with visitors, most of whom have descended on the Schoharie County community for the wedding scheduled today for the “Fabulous Beekman Boys” of reality television fame. The two, Dr. Brent Ridge and novelist Josh Kilmer-Purcell, will celebrate their wedding at the Beekman Farm, which the couple purchased in 2007 and serves as the backdrop of their television show.

The fact that not only Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell but also a second partnered pair of celebrities — Roger Hazard of the television show Sell This House and Chris Stout-Hazard, owner of the local furniture shop Love Decades — have settled in Sharon Springs is seen by the community’s advocates as evidence it has already become a destination place.

Plummer, who will officiate over his first village board meeting as mayor next week, said he is eager to bring solar energy and composting projects to Sharon Springs.

Efforts are already underway to restore Chalybeate Park, and two acclaimed artists, Marguerite McFarland and Peter Cozzolino, have been enlisted to paint a large mural on a wall of the public works building in the spa section of the village.

Plummer said his own experiences in Sharon Springs further illustrate that success in the storied village can be attained through perseverance. In 1996, he and his partner, Garth Roberts, bought the then badly dilapidated American Hotel at 192 Main St. It took them five years to restore the structure, which had been built in 1847, and reopen it for business as a hotel-restaurant.

“It’s kind of amazing to sit back and take stock of what we used to dream about, and then see what has actually come to fruition,” he said.

The mayor said one of his priorities will be to try to bring about cohesion between what has long been two distinct parts of the village — so-called Upstreet, the U.S. Route 20 corridor, and Downstreet, the nucleus of the village where the American Hotel and trendy shops are located.

He noted that it was with irony he stumbled into documents left behind by an organization that in 1950 held brainstorming meetings on how to bring about that same “cohesion” between the two sections of the village.

“The lower part of the village gets a lot more attention,” he noted, “ and so we want to make sure the folks up on Route 20 get their due and recognition. It is a vital part of this village.”

Plummer said that while he recognizes that the efforts to fully rejuvenate the village — a popular upstate tourism destination in the 19th and early 20th centuries — will face obstacles, he sees nothing that can’t be overcome.

“I can’t think of anything off hand that is so daunting we couldn’t handle it,” he said. “It all takes money and it all takes time.”