A UD Center; After all These Years
I was surprised and not surprised when I read the news that the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway was moving ahead with the placement of a visitor’s center at the train depot in Callicoon. In one way or another, it's been in the works for years. (The project is called the UDSB Visitor Center Partnership Project and there's more about it here.)
And not only that, I think it's brilliant.
After a decade or so of fits and stops, an Upper Delaware Visitor's Center is in the works!
imagine a very cool visitor's center in the middle of a quaint intact hamlet, in a historic train depot.
What could be better?
It speaks of history; it speaks of the inherent grounding of our region to its colorful and productive past! (We are cooler than just being a getaway from NYC! We have always, throughout time, been a getaway paradise so conveniently located! Location, location, location!)
I am recalling at this moment how Narrowsburg's forefathers and mothers, community members all, took a general store to Nassau Collesium as their booth at the huge Outdoorsman Show there.
A general store in Nassau Collesium was a great depiction of this historic and prominent region.
A historic train station visitor's center in the Upper Delaware fits that bill as well!
And yes, I can totally understand that other communities would want such a center in their hamlet.
I can see how Tusten Town Board member Jane Luchsinger and Narrowsburg Union owner Brendan Weiden would advocate that a center be placed at the former Narrowsburg Central School (another historic site, being repurposed). Indeed, a homeowner on Route 97, with an amazing stone house and easy access on and off the highway, also thinks that would have been a perfect place for a center, complete with amazing vistas of the hills and the river, not to mention potential hiking trails on its lush and hardscaped terraced landscape. (Whoosh, that property, if it were years ago when Congressman Hinchey's $500,000 needed to be spent in Cochecton, might have been perfect!)
It could be in any of those places.
But, right now, Callicoon seems right. And here's why I think so.
For decades, groups all over the valley have been meeting and exploring, articulating the values that we all treasure in this place we call home. We have been exploring regional branding. We have been collaborating and forming and reforming diverse groups of people to examine and create a viable and authentic future.
I recall the Upper Delaware Visioning Committee, a TRR civic journalism project that was aimed at connecting individuals and communities across the valley – across state lines. (It was ably shepherded by the late Tom Kane, as part of his work at the paper.) It was a unique collaboration and these kinds of collaborations have brought amazing improvements to the valley. The Callicoon Farmers Market in Callicoon and the Yellow Dot Trail in Tusten were two significant accomplishments of the first visioning committee. Sharing information became so much easier when, out of conversations about what the valley needed, a regional GIS Committee was formed between Pike County, PA, Sullivan County, NY, and the National Park Service, among others. No longer would there be maps that depicted islands with non-apparent neighbors.
I cannot tell you how many workshops and seminars I have attended that explored what it is that truly typifies this place. Indeed, a new study will be released by the National Parks Conservation Association on October 11 in Hancock, NY, and Honesdale, PA, that explores the intersections of the valley's traditional industries and values and the emerging persona of a trendy urban outpost.
And with that, I think that it is truly a magnificent idea that the historic train station in the middle of one of our active hamlets will house an Upper Delaware Scenic Byway Visitor’s Center.
Its placement in Callicoon did not come in a vacuum. Indeed, members of the Callicoon Business Association and its Callicoon Depot Committee have been building on community visioning sessions that began in the fall of 2016. Those original sessions were the brainchild of resident Isaac Green Diebboll, business owner Irene Nickolai, Evadne Gianinni of Hospitality Green and architect Buck Moorhead. They had an idea. They applied for a Sullivan Renaissance grant and were awarded money. They held sessions. It was their own brand of master planning, something many communities have undertaken. Read more about it here.
So it's not surprising that two years later, there is a plan to go to the UDSB (and Sullivan County) as part of this unique partnership. The Callicoon Depot Committee folks have done their homework. They have conducted site visits, created preliminary design plans, walkthroughs and cost estimates. They have done their planning. This exploration and moving forward is an appropriate outcome for the collaboration that has been years in the making.
I see this center as a beginning.
I believe there has always been abundance in the Upper Delaware. Each hamlet has its own unique flavor in the world. We need to think of those flavors and combine them in a most elegant sundae of all sundaes.
And speaking of sundaes, I would so love to see an ice cream factory at the Union in Narrowsburg. (Let's make that happen!)
(BTW: the Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Factory is Vermont's most popular visitor attraction.)
So, where do we go from here folks? How do we capitalize on this most amazing development?
Well done Scenic Byway, Callicoon Business Association, Callicoon Depot Committee and Sullivan Renaissance.
Well done all.
For more about this, see the news story here.
To read excerpts of scenic byway minutes regarding the UDSB Visitor Center Partnership Project Click Here.