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Upper Delaware Scenic Byway Visitor Center to feature roof with a view

By Fritz Mayer
January 25, 2012

If and when it is built, it will have a sloping roof that will provide visitors with a good view of Fort Delaware and the Upper Delaware River below. The proposed design of the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway (UDSB) Visitor Center was unveiled at a meeting in Narrowsburg on January 23.

Along with the specialized roof, which will be made of recycled rubber pavers to handle the foot traffic, the 2,400-square-foot building will have a gallery, a multi-use space to be used as a theater or classroom, two offices for the UDSB and Fort Delaware, a gift shop, a warming kitchen and public restrooms.

The building will also be semi-submerged, which will help to keep heating and cooling costs low. The design also provides that the new center will not be very visible from Route 97.

USDB member Ed Boyer said that in considering the design there was concern that the “considerable new construction be done in a way that didn’t disrupt what is there already, and this design solves that problem.”

The proposed cost for the construction is $1.4 million. There is $250,000 available in money from New York State, which Senator John Bonacic secured several years ago, and there is $510,000 in federal money, secured by Congressman Maurice Hinchey. However, the federal money is tied up for now because the original legislation regarding the grant stipulated that the project would be done in the Town of Cochecton.

The original federal funding for the center was approved in 2005. In 2010, Sullivan County officials, who were committed to spending $250,000 for the project, proposed that it be moved to the Fort Delaware location in Narrowsburg where the county contribution could then be the value of the land itself, which the county already owned. Other stakeholders, such as UDSB, approved.

But because of the change, the legislation must be resubmitted. Hinchey, who is retiring at the end of the year, has been supportive of the change, but it is unclear when the problem might be cleared up.

Additionally, if the project is to move forward, the board will have to get not only the federal funds but also another $700,000.

Glenn Pontier, who is a member of the organization and the project director for Sullivan Renaissance, said that public projects are often started without full funding in place, and the question before the board at this point was whether they wanted to endorse the design and move forward in trying to secure the funding from other sources.