Everyone welcome

Future park in old campground invites the pandemic-weary

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 10/13/20

CALLICOON, NY — Francis O’Shea looks at the grassland and trees in Callicoon and sees a “small and mighty park.”

It’s 42 acres of former campground along the Delaware …

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Everyone welcome

Future park in old campground invites the pandemic-weary

Posted

CALLICOON, NY — Francis O’Shea looks at the grassland and trees in Callicoon and sees a “small and mighty park.”

It’s 42 acres of former campground along the Delaware and, if all goes well, it’ll be a park and a town-owned water-treatment facility. He’s hoping for a DEC boat launch area upriver, too. 

The Trust for Public Land owns the property for now, and  O’Shea, as the project manager, was there to get people talking about what they wanted in a park, as well as coordinating the various agencies involved and working on fundraising.

Opening a new park here seems like a coals-to-Newcastle issue: don’t we live in, essentially, a parkland? 

Only kind of. Much of the countryside is in private hands, O’Shea said. There really aren’t many public parks: places where families can go to look at the river, to play in the grass and spend time outdoors.

This park, tentatively named Riverside, wouldn’t compete with the Callicoon Creek Park or the Delaware Youth Center, he said. Those parks serve different needs and offer different facilities. 

As sketched out, Riverside would offer a dog-walking area, hiking trails, places to meditate or just rest. That goes along with a recognized centuries-old Lenape summer hunting ground on the property, which the trust intends to use to highlight the contributions of the tribe to local history and culture. It also has two unmarked Revolutionary War-era graves. 

O’Shea has rounded up partners and donors, including an LL Bean grant of $50,000.

“This is a partnership park,” said Don Hamilton, chief of resource management at the National Park Service. “It requires a partnership between counties and towns.” 

“We closed [on the property] in May,” O’Shea said. “Our partners have really been stepping up.” 

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” said Hamilton. “We had record usage of the river [this summer]... people really embraced the river.” 

Is this project typical for the Trust for Public Land? 

“‘Typical’ is how we work with the community,” said Carter Strickland, the New York State director for the Trust for Public Land. “We believe in community-led projects.” 

They’ve worked in both urban and rural areas, focusing on both land preservation and park creation. But probably the biggest challenge they face right now is the coronavirus and funding limitations due to the economic upheaval. 

They and their partners are working on it. Town of Delaware Supervisor Steve Lundgren was there, talking the project up. State Senator Jen Metzger was there to also lend her support. Sullivan County is involved. In the spring, the park will be turned over to the county, O’Shea said.

In the meantime, Callicoon resident John Erik Karkula, who pulled together an accompanying event of vendors and performers, looked around at the people milling through the park-to-be. 

This is what matters, he said. “To bring people here and enjoy the park, to have people wander around and see what they’ve been gifted with in the middle of a pandemic.”

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