319052_115618948598724_981993902_nIt may sound strange, but last week’s opening of a new laundromat in the town of Pine Plains is the start of something very special. The laundromat, at the rear of the lovely but dilapidated Pine Plains Memorial Hall building, signifies a community coming together to do more than just clean clothes. The laundromat has become a symbol of a town determined to revive its economic center and tantalize people from near and far to visit and, possibly, to remain.

Memorial Hall owners Jack Banning, Ariel Schlein and Christian Eisenbeiss, collectively known as S.E.B. Holdings Management, LLC, bought the building last May at the bargain price of $199,000. They magnanimously decided to turn the venue into a performing arts center — something of which the whole community will be proud — that will attract visitors from Dutchess, Columbia and Ulster counties as well as from the entire Tri-state region. Yes, it will take time, but S.E.B. is well on its way. According to Banning, New York City architect Doug Larson has already offered to do the whole project pro bono.

And that’s just the kind of enthusiasm that has run wild among the many men and women who have offered their services to bring the 1915-era structure into the 21st century. Many of those who worked on the laundromat did so at cost.

And dozens of people came out to the ribbon-cutting ceremony in celebration of Pine Plains’ newest business — evidence of the incredibly strong sense of community among the town’s residents and businesspeople.

Additionally, money earned at the laundromat will go toward the Memorial Hall renovations. Again, it’s community first when it comes to this special project.

It’s a not-so-small beginning step — and a very important one at that. Another important step was taken just last month, when the county presented a plan to revamp the town’s business center in hopes of spurring economic development. Again, the community turned out in droves to listen.

Central to the plan are landmark buildings like Memorial Hall and Stissing House. Town Supervisor Brian Coons has been promoting the initiative, along with any potential business ventures, with great enthusiasm. Coons is determined to give Pine Plains an economic shot in the arm, for he’s well aware of what a treasure the town will be once that is accomplished.

Pine Plains already has much to offer: beautiful natural resources, rich history and great people. Once it’s able to generate more business, the town has the potential of growing into a Millerton west. Just like its vibrant neighbor east of Route 22, Pine Plains is at the intersection of major county roads. It bridges together a number of local communities as a result. While Millerton has the advantage of bordering the state line, Pine Plains connects the eastern and the western ends of the county — providing a necessary and potentially very active crossroad.

Its greatest resource, however, has to be its residents. With a communal sense of pride, ownership and determination, Pine Plains is strongly supported by its populace. People are absolutely invested in the town, and every individual brings his or her own expertise and artistry to the efforts now being made to grow Pine Plains the right way.

Coons and his Town Board members, Banning and his partners, not to mention the countless others involved in the town’s revitalization, combine to make a winning team. If Pine Plains is able to galvanize its efforts there’s really no limit to what can be accomplished. Just look at the new laundromat as an example. It may be one small step, but its potential is very large indeed.