The history of Sustainable Warwick lies in the formation of Community 2000, a community-based 501(c)3 organization that began in 1993, when a group of Warwick Citizens organized a “grass roots visioning process” for the town. Hundreds of townspeople came to the initial meetings to brainstorm and share their ideas for addressing the question of what their community could be. The process culminated with a “Vision Fair”, at which task-force subcommittees were formed to address a broad range of concerns, such as open space and environment, sustainability at the local level, agriculture, community outreach and education, and the arts.
From the Master Plan: In July of 1994, at the request of Community 2000, the Warwick Town Board started the process of a full-scale study of the existing Master Plan by appointing a 17 member Master Plan Review Coordinating Committee to study, gather information, and make recommendations for updating the Plan.
During the previous year, 1993, the Community 2000 organization had conducted six town-wide visioning meetings during which over 500 Warwick citizens had voiced their visions of what they would like the Town of Warwick to be in the year 2000. Highest priority was given to, “Keeping Warwick Beautiful”, “Preserving Our Rural Character”, and “Saving Our Farms”. Task Forces were organized to accomplish these goals and they studied planning, zoning and land use, agriculture, resource conservation and open spaces, and historic preservation. A video on Open Space for Warwick, produced and shown throughout the community, sparked interest among citizens and support by the Town Board for reviewing the Town’s vision for the future.
During the next six months, the Master Plan Review Coordinating Committee discussed the Master Plan in detail, solicited input from community organizations, Town boards, and committees, and sponsored five Public Forums (involving 16 distinguished speakers) in Town Hall attended by 500 to 600 Warwick citizens. A report was written and submitted to the Town Board in February 1995. The Town Planning Board held two public hearings on March 15 and 29, 1995 to receive additional public input. In the Planning Board’s report to the Town Board on the public hearings, Chairman Warren Burger wrote “A consistent theme ran through the oral comments made by speakers at the public hearings; preserve the rural character of the Town and guide development in an orderly; disciplined manner.”
In the 20 years since, Community 2000/Sustainable Warwick and the Warwick community have brought many of these visionary ideas to fruition:
- The preservation of over 3,000 acres of farmland
- The new Comprehensive Plan and extensive zoning change improvements
- An extremely successful weekly Farmer’s Market
- Popular Summer Arts Festival, bringing world class music to Main Street and farm fields
- The annual Open Studio Art Tour to support Warwick’s vibrant fine arts community
- A Community Garden and Orchard
- A Community Composting program
- The passing of a comprehensive Town Zoning change to prohibit hydraulic fracking
- The Emergency Farm Aid Campaign, which raised over $135,000 in two months for Warwick’s farms and migrant workers devastated by the storms of 2011