New river visitor center proposed
Callicoon Train Depot considered
CALLICOON, NY — The Callicoon Business Association has been working with the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway (UDSB) since early 2018 to broker a deal to bring a visitors' center to life in the historic hamlet. According to Nicole Vallance, who has been acting on behalf of the CBA as both the Secretary and as the CBA’s Train Depot Committee Chairperson, to move the project forward, if all goes well, the visitors' center would be located in the train depot in the center of the hamlet, which is owned by the New York Susquehanna and Western Railway (NYSW). The railroad has been working with the groups and had envisioned a community use of the depot after moving offices out of the building.
But this is not the first attempt at creating a visitors center for the river corridor, which had been championed by various groups and individuals over the years. About a decade ago, then-Congressman Maurice Hinchey secured a grant of about $500,000 to create a visitor center at the restored Cochecton Train Station. State Sen. John Bonacic also secured an additional $250,000 in grant money of the project.
For various reasons, officials involved decided it would be better to create a visitors center at the Fort Delaware location in Narrowsburg, and detailed architectural plans were drawn up. But the grant from Hinchey specified that the visitors center be located at Cochecton, so though local officials tried to get Congress to change the terms of the grant, they were not successful.
Glenn Pontier, chair of UDSB, said the organization didn’t have the expertise to push the project forward. A match was also required from the county, which during the Great Recession was not in a position to kick in money. Eventually the money secured by Hinchey was withdrawn. But according to Pontier and Vallance, the funding secured by Bonacic from the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York is still available.
This money could be used to renovate the train depot in Callicoon, and while there is not yet an engineers’ study available for the building, Pontier said he thinks it’s in good shape.
Some 300,000 visitors come to the Upper Delaware River each year, and Pontier said, “It would really be helpful if there were some place that some percentage of them could go to get brochures, to use rest rooms, to see a little historic display of the area, as in welcome centers all over the world.”
The project is still in the exploratory stage. Vallance said that her organization is working with local and county officials and organizations, and there are “a lot of moving parts,” and a lot of details remain to be worked out.