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Open letter on the visitors’ center

By Brendan P. Weiden and Kathleen M. Weiden
July 27, 2016

[The below letter was sent to Tusten Town Supervisor Carol Wingert.]

This letter concerns the approximate $535,000 of funds, long thought gone, currently in the hands of the DOT and earmarked for a visitors’ center in the Upper Delaware River Valley.

Recent media reports have chronicled the work of the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway (UDSB), conducted over more than 10 years, in demonstrating the need, and obtaining the funding, for a visitors’ center in the Upper Delaware River Valley. It appears indisputable that the initiative and effort of the UDSB resulted in the opportunity to create a visitors’ center in the Upper Delaware River Valley.

The question before us now is: where do we go from here?

Earned over decades of hard work and creative thinking, Western Sullivan County today enjoys an excellent reputation for outdoor recreational tourism, arts-related tourism and agricultural tourism, largely anchored by the Delaware River. Eastern Sullivan County now has a wonderful opportunity to become a casino and resort tourism destination, with Montreign, Addelar, Veria and other like business investments coming on line over the next two to three years.

Sullivan County is truly blessed to have this dual “personality” for attracting visitors. We should view these dual personalities as complementary and not competitive, equal and not one subservient to the other. In fact, we need these two halves of our one self, working together, supporting each other, respecting what each has to contribute, in order to be whole. To paraphrase Aristotle, together we are stronger than the sum of our parts.

It is our hope the parties on each side of the best-use-of-funds debate choose to collaborate for our county’s mutual benefit, rather than fight to our mutual detriment. We believe that with hard work, creative thinking, a collaborative spirit and a commitment to transparent communications and information sharing, a solution may be found that satisfies our one self.

We have reached out to the UDSB to communicate our desire to be part of a collaborative discussion on how the funds can best be deployed for benefit of all of Sullivan County. We will be making a presentation next Monday night before the UDSB on The Narrowsburg Union as a possible home for a visitors’ center for the Upper Delaware River. [This event had already occurred by press time; see news item on page 1.] We believe that there may be a way forward that allows for two viable visitors’ centers in Sullivan County.