Sullivan County fights blight

Posted 6/6/18

MONTICELLO, NY — The Sullivan County Land Bank Corporation is demolishing and rehabilitating blighted properties in the villages of Monticello and Liberty. Nine houses are slated to be …

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Sullivan County fights blight


MONTICELLO, NY — The Sullivan County Land Bank Corporation is demolishing and rehabilitating blighted properties in the villages of Monticello and Liberty. Nine houses are slated to be demolished, and four are slated to be rehabilitated.

The land bank’s strategy is to tear down houses that have been abandoned for years and are deteriorating as a result. Because it would not make financial sense for average homebuyers to fix up the houses themselves, these properties tend to remain vacant and as a result deteriorate further. In order to make these properties valuable again, the land bank pays to have the dilapidated houses torn down or renovated.

The first two homes to be torn down were located on High Street in the Village of Monticello. Sullivan County Land Bank Chair Freda Eisenberg calls High Street one of the bank’s targeted areas.

“It’s very highly visible blight, because High Street’s a connecter strip between Route 42 and both the government center and the Short Line Bus terminal… so that street leaves an impression on people visiting the area, and we’d like to make a better impression,” said Eisenberg.

Other targeted clusters of deterioration are located on Park Avenue and Washington Street in the Village of Monticello. The land bank is choosing areas that contain distressed properties, but have potential for revitalization. For example, Park Avenue is located near many of the amenities the county seat has to offer, making it an attractive spot for those looking to buy a home.

The land bank’s work is part of a broader effort by Monticello to win a $10 million award from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The state describes it as “a comprehensive approach to transform communities ripe for development into vibrant neighborhoods where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live and work.”

“Among the factors that the state is looking for in this competition is evidence that there is investment and revitalization activity going on in these communities that it wants to give these funds to,” said Eisenberg. “The land bank is one element of a whole picture of revitalization activities that go into making the case for the state giving the village the award.”

The Sullivan County Land Bank receives its grants from the New York Attorney General Office’s Community Revitalization Initiative. The initiative funds land banks across the state by reallocating money secured through settlements with large national banks after the 2008 housing crisis. The grant is managed by the Local Initiatives Support Coalition.

Though this is the main source of funding for the land bank, Eisenberg says that the need is much greater, and it will be looking to the community for that added support. “Other land banks have attracted funds through other grant sources but also private donations, and we are going to start doing more aggressive fundraising eventually,” she said.

The Sullivan County Land Bank’s meetings are open to the public. Its next regular meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 12 at 1 p.m. in the Legislative Committee Room at the Sullivan County Government Center in the Village of Monticello.

[Owen Walsh is an intern whom The River Reporter has hired for the summer. Born in Honesdale, PA, Walsh is entering his senior year as a journalism major and music minor at Ithaca College.]



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