The Heart of Vestal

 

Nearly every community has a “heart” — a central focal point around and upon which residents build their sense of belonging, weave their memories, and build their lives.  This is not an aspect clearly identified for Vestal, New York.

As someone who grew up in a small college town with a wealth of lovely old buildings clearly establishing the center of town, to me, Vestal seemed amorphous by comparison.  Never actually a village in the traditional sense, Vestal is a broad expanse of former farmland with an unmistakeably linear, east-to-west swatch of “development” along the southern bank of the Susquehanna River.   A stretched-out, commercialized suburb with Binghamton University blurring the lines between itself and the city next-door, Vestal challenges new residents who wish to put down roots.  I spent years in search of the real center of my new home… but I found it.

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This is a photo of what I believe to be the “heart” of the Town and community of Vestal, New York:  the Vestal Museum (housed in the relocated old green train station,) the Vestal Public Library, and the Vestal High School (just visible on the hill above and behind the library.)  Together, these are the past, present, and future of this community and everyone who has or will ever call it home.

The Vestal Museum presents, through events, artifacts, and stories, the relationship of our little Town to the State, the nation, and the world, and reminds us of the importance of roots, our past.   Vestal High School is the building where our young people gather the skills they need and find the harbors from which to set sail for the shores of the future.  Between these two stands the Vestal Public Library — our present — where parents bring toddlers to play groups, preschoolers enjoy Story Hours, teens enjoy gaming events, local musicians share songs and tunes, political and educational groups gather for meetings, and Seniors get help each year with taxes… and that barely scratches the surface of what a library offers to a community.

In times of need, the Vestal Library’s career center is a gold mine of information on grants, skill development, educational opportunities, and vocational guidance.  The community has free Internet access, and students have rich resources for research and reports at every grade level.

Our Library has been there for us, and we need it now more than ever, as strong as it can be.  Our Museum holds the key to a firm foundation for the community’s identity.  Our schools, K-12 and beyond, need to be strong with community support to give our young people the best chance at a better future, for Vestal and beyond.  As a community, when we work together to support such institutions, we are all at our best.

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