Cochecton: signs of the dove
LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — “Should we leave the town as is, or should we be promoting commercial development?” asked councilman Paul Salzberg. His question came after Sullivan County Legislature Chairman Luis Alvarez’s 2019 State of the County address to the Cochecton Town Board, prior to the start of its February 13 meeting.
Alvarez emphasized commercial resurgence of the region, noting that tourists will want to take advantage of Orange County’s new Legoland venture and Sullivan County’s new destination casino and water park. Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Fort Delaware and the Upper Delaware National Recreation Area continue to draw tourists, as well as visits to the area’s numerous boutique attractions: wineries, breweries, creameries and bed and breakfast establishments.
Supervisor Gary Maas answered Salzberg’s question with a statement, “The planning board and the town’s zoning ordinances have made the town’s intentions in that respect pretty clear.” Referencing recent amendments to zoning ordinances that address wind and solar energy farms, summer camps and private schools, Maas indicated that Cochecton encourages commercial development that is environmentally safe, ecologically responsible and mindful of resident concerns for privacy, noise and traffic control, as well as refuse removal and road and property maintenance.
“Should we be encouraging new restaurants and businesses around Lake Huntington’s commercial district?” asked Salzberg.
To that, code enforcement officer Gregg Semenetz said, “Of course we should be encouraging new restaurants; they promote tourism, satisfy tourists already here and serve as watering holes for locals.” But he added that industrial growth is dependent on the town’s ability to provide adequate sewer facilities, as septic systems large enough to accommodate industrial sites are prohibitive in cost.
Despite a major sewer plant upgrade two years ago that ultimately cost more than $250,000, the Lake Huntington lakeside sewer system, the only sewer district in Cochecton, is currently operating near capacity, even without serving all of the lakeside residences. Expansion or enhancement of the system built in 1932 would require a generous infusion of capital.
Salzberg then mentioned the last large addition to the sewer district as one of the town’s biggest residential draws: Sullivan West High School. The school, awarded a silver ranking in high schools nationwide by U.S. News and World Report, is recognized as one of the county’s best schools. Councilman Sean Nearing said it’s been attracting families of the Resorts World Catskills Casino’s top managers to live in Cochecton.
As a last order of business, Maas mentioned the biggest tourist event in 50 years, the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Woodstock Festival, scheduled to take place this summer at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, the site of the original festival. Event organizers consider signage for the anniversary to be an important component of the commemorative event. To that end, each town in the county has been given one or more dove sculptures to be painted by local artists for display within the town.
Cochecton will have two signs, one sponsored by the town and one co-sponsored by the town and the Cochecton Fire Station restaurant. Zeke Miller, proprietor of the Cochecton Fire Station, selected one of several designs prepared by the Nutshell Arts Center in Lake Huntington. Although it is unclear how, or by whom, the other design will be chosen, Maas circulated the design portfolio among meeting participants, requesting their feedback.
A consensus for one of the designs quickly emerged.