This article was originally published in The Millerton News, a New York State newspaper, in March 2015.
Republished with permission, copyright The Lakeville Journal Company, LLC, 2015.
It’s not unusual to see the Hudson Valley in popular news; the rest of the state and country appear to be catching on to the beauty and culture abundant along the river’s path. But one northeastern Dutchess County town in particular has taken the spotlight this winter, a perhaps unsuspecting town that’s gaining momentum with what its people are putting out — Amenia.
In the hamlet of Wassaic last May, The Lantern Inn bar expanded with a wood-fired oven-equipped kitchen to offer customers pizza to enjoy with their drinks. On Feb. 23, GQ magazine named the menu’s Green Lantern pie “Pizza of the Year.” In less than a year, The Lantern made the pizza of the year.
The news was shared by the restaurant on Facebook and to date has 160 likes, 30 shares and many comments applauding the recognition.
Just a week later on March 4, The New York Times published a two-page spread with photos and more than 2,000 words on The Wassaic Project, the hamlet’s now eight-years-going arts community powerhouse.
“The Wassaic Project is a toothsome example of how artists schooled in social practice … can re-energize not just structures but entire towns like this tiny hamlet of just over 1,500 people that is the last stop on the Metro-North Harlem line,” wrote author Penelope Green.
Jeff Barnett-Winsby, Lantern manager and Wassaic Project co-executive director, said the national attention came as a surprise but was the direct result of group effort and collaboration.
“We’re really flattered,” said Barnett-Winsby. “I hope the coverage operates to celebrate everyone’s good efforts, and I hope that it makes people in the community feel like the good efforts that they’re making are not going unnoticed.”
Just two days later on March 6, The Times ran an in-depth report on Silo Ridge Field Club, the resort community development project that submitted final plans last month.
Author Julie Satow wrote that “Amenia has had a tough time” since Wassaic’s Taconic Developmental Disabilities Services Office — a major employer — closed in 2013 but that “things may be soon looking up for the town, as a luxury development gets underway that will build more than 200 homes priced from $1 million to more than $10 million.”
Silo Ridge’s executive Pedro Torres was pleased not only with his coverage but of the Wassaic activity too.
“As you can see, it’s not just us. It means that Amenia’s getting more popular and hopefully between our project and other things that develop, we can create a destination, which is our goal,” he said.
Asked what makes Amenia so special, in light of the recent press, town Supervisor Victoria Perotti cited her residents.
“One of the things that makes Amenia so special are the volunteers,” the supervisor said. “Especially the people who take their time and volunteer for not only committees and cleanup days, but also our first responders and our firemen.”