MARK seeking input on Revitalization Plan

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By Jay Braman Jr.
The towns of Andes, Middletown, and Roxbury and the villages of Fleischmanns and Margaretville in Delaware County and the towns of Olive and Shandaken in Ulster County have collaborated with the MARK Project and the Catskill Center to prepare an economic revitalization strategy.
Now they want to hear from the public on it.

On April 25 at the Pine Hill Community Center, a public hearing will be held on this draft plan that is designed to capitalize on the natural, scenic, agricultural and recreational assets of the East Branch of the Delaware River, the Esopus Creek and its tributaries, and associated lands.

Essential information
“This product can be a valuable tool that guides our communities and the region, and also helps identify and leverage potential funding sources to see these projects to fruition,” says Peg Ellsworth, executive director of the MARK Project.
“Public input is critical to the overall success of this project and how the plan is used to help the region move forward.”
To inspire a healthy discussion, Ellsworth is asking that anyone attending be already familiar with the plan. It can be viewed online at planningbetterplaces.com/esopusdelawareplan.html

RSVP event
Anyone planning on attending should also RSVP by April 24, Ellsworth said. To do so contact the MARK Project at 586-3500.
The plan is called “Revitalizing the Esopus/ Delaware Region of the Central Catskills.” It is a 150 page document.

According to the document, the purpose of the plan is to strengthen the economic base by providing new opportunities for water‐based recreation, natural resource based economies, and associated tourism‐based economic development. Ultimately, the document states, this strategy seeks to provide these communities with actionable strategies that can be put to work to create new economic activity.

This strategy is regional in its outlook. It is aimed at the revitalization of the Esopus and East Branch corridors (state Routes 28 and 30) in the central Catskills. The document incorporates and builds upon the knowledge and creativity learned from a decade or more of planning. It is designed to promote effective regional efforts and at the same time, support work on specific actions that could take place in individual communities.

Long time coming
Work on the plan began in 2010. Along the way research revealed a wide variety of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Highlights include the following:

A diversity of physical and geological features contributes to a diversity of environmental conditions and habitats, and a low‐density rural settlement pattern and punctuated by villages and hamlets.
Approximately 26 percent of the land area within the region is state owned; 14 percent is owned or controlled by New York City (owned in fee or conservation easement) as part of its water supply system.

Do the math
A survey of second homeowners found that this group, estimated to include 9,300 people, contributes approximately $22 to $33.9 million annually to the local economy.
A market analysis, which included a survey of area businesses, revealed an economy comprised mainly of small businesses and public sector employers.

Reaffirming past studies, the region’s public lands, waterways, mountains, and other natural resources are underutilized, in spite of the wide range of outdoor recreation opportunities they offer.