On the outskirts of the more developed part of town stands Bethlehem Grange No. 137. A red, box of a wooden, two-story frame that embodies a time when neighbors lived acres apart, yet took the time to know one another a little better than today.
Officially, it’s the home of The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry. The Grange, for short, is a fraternal organization with the purpose to band community members together for the interest of economic and political well-being. The organization was originally founded in 1867 and is the oldest agricultural advocacy group in the country.
The structure still serves as a community center, before the obligatory Wi-Fi access and tele-conference rooms found in its contemporary counterparts. Instead of seminars and team-building programs, you can still find dances and dinners — helping to bring happiness and harmony to the larger community.
In Colonie, where neighbors live a little closer together, the majority of folks find themselves to be happy with where they live. Two weeks ago we reported on a Siena College survey that assessed the quality of life in town. In all, more than 300 residents were asked, and — in something you rarely find in so many people — nearly all said they found their hometown to be a great place to raise a family.
Colonie is certainly viewed as one of the best towns in the Capital District. When you consider school districts, proximity to shopping, town parks and municipal services, it’s a desirable place to establish roots. Which, explains the pace at which development occurs.
The rate at which development is taking place in Colonie is a subject of contention. According to Siena College’s survey, seven in every 10 residents feel that it has improved quality of life. The same rate of people feel the taxes they pay are just about right. But, they could all do away with the traffic.
Siena College did find approximately every other person felt concerned about the rate of development in Colonie. And, if you were to talk to residents in other towns, you are likely to hear the same thing. If you find someone who has lived in town for several decades, and tapped that person on the shoulder, you’ll hear stories of what used to stand under that shopping mall or housing development. In Bethlehem, townspeople are seeing it happen now at Sandy Creek Farm. The 80-year-old barn was just torn down a few weeks ago. Already, a fine infrastructure is being laid down to support 40 new homes. The farm is gone.
A few miles south lies the Grange building. It looks good for nearly a century old, but the roof is leaking quite a bit. So much so, the Grange is looking at $35,000 in repairs. Today, they depend on donations and proceeds from those aforementioned dinners, and a rummage sale they hold each year.
In recent weeks, we’ve learned many people wish to retain a piece of their hometown’s past. Wouldn’t it be great to see that roof repaired?