Long Eddy access plan progresses; Fremont supervisor not pleased
By Fritz Mayer
November 26, 2014 —
LONG EDDY, NY — The plan for an expanded access area to the Upper Delaware River in Long Eddy is a hit with at least some of the public. Fishing enthusiasts and others pitched in with $5,381 on a crowd-source funding website (www.indiegogo.com/projects/improve-the-long-eddy-river-access) to help pay for the project. Then, on November 20, the Sullivan County Legislature unanimously agreed to give $5,000 towards the project.
But not everyone is pleased. The reason the expansion will be able to go forward is because a parcel next to the current river access point came on the market recently. It has about 75 feet of river frontage, and a house that was badly damaged in flooding in 2005 and 2006.
George Conklin, supervisor of the Town of Fremont, said he would be delighted if a private businessperson were to buy the property, open a business, pay taxes and employ people. He said, “Forty years ago people lived there, and they used to charge people a couple of bucks to put a canoe in, or fifty cents to go and fish.” He said the owners of the property paid taxes.
But under the present scenario, the property will come off the tax rolls. It is being purchased by the Delaware Highlands Conservancy for $60,000 and will be managed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). According to taxlookup.net, the taxes paid on the property for 2014 were $2,179, and about half of that goes to the county.
But supporters argue that an increased access area at the point in the river could attract more people to the town if it is handled correctly. Fishing guide Tony Ritter, who often uses the access at Long Eddy said, “It’s a revenue enhancer for Fremont and Long Eddy, if they want to make it such.”
Ritter, who said he brought the property to the attention of Bill Rudge of the DEC, said there is a place called Craig, MT on the Missouri River, where people go from all over the world to fish, and businesses like restaurants have done well there. He said the same thing could possibly happen in Long Eddy.
Conklin said that he has talked to the owners of the Chestnut Inn and the Long Eddy Hotel over the past couple of years about this, and “they really don’t get any business” out of the fishing activity in the area. He also said “We don’t have gas stations and fly-fishing shops,” and “it’s not like people are knocking down the doors of the gun shop to ask them to sell fishing equipment.”
Over the past couple of years, county officials have been studying six river access points, and have come up with plans to upgrade or improve them. With this riverfront parcel coming onto the market about six months ago, with a willing seller who believes the sale will benefit the community, and with so many people in the county and state supporting the project, it seems likely that it will move forward and eventually the access will be expanded.
Conklin said he is “pragmatic,” and he thinks that the project will go forward and he and other members of the town board won’t stop it. He said his recommendation to the DEC would be to make it accessible to local people as well as others, by perhaps installing places for barbeques, and allowing residents to fish from the shore. He said the site should be able to be used by people who may not be wealthy enough to buy or hire a drift boat.