By Rob Potter
CALLICOON March 30, 2001 Local residents, county leaders and state officials gathered Monday evening at the Delaware Youth Center in Callicoon for the latest in a series of meetings regarding the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway.
Since last May, citizens and officials alike have met on a monthly basis to discuss transforming Route 97 into the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway. The proposed byway runs about 70 miles from Hancock to Port Jervis.
At the meeting, copies of a draft enhancement concept for the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway were distributed and examined. Produced by the Scenic Byway Committee which is made up of local officials and private citizens from Delaware County, the Village of Hancock, Town of Hancock, City of Port Jervis, the Town of Deerpark and the six Sullivan County towns that lie along Route 97 the concept outlines suggestions for making the proposed byway a destination for travelers.
Carol Truppi, president of HRG Consultants, Inc. of Washington, D.C., presented a slide show of other byways throughout the nation. She noted that those byways have benefitted the tourism industry and protected the community.
The Upper Delaware Scenic Byway would highlight all this area has to offer, Truppi said of the Route 97 corridor.
After Truppis slide show, Tom Shepstone, Peter Osborne and Alan Sorensen summarized different aspects of the concept. Shepstone, a planning consultant from Honesdale, Pa., outlined transportation strategies for the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway. Osborne, the historian for the City of Port Jervis, addressed tourism interests along the byway. Sorensen, the Sullivan County Planning Commissioner, spoke of the management of the byway.
He noted that establishing a management entity after the official designation of Route 97 as the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway would be key. A suggestion in the concept draft calls for the creation of a not-for-profit entity similar to the Upper Delaware Council.
The group would have a representative from each of the towns bordering the byway as well as the Village of Hancock and City of Port Jervis, so the entity would have nine to 11 members. Non-voting members would include representatives of the New York State DOT, Sullivan County Visitors Association and the Upper Delaware Council, along with possible others chosen by the entity.
During a question-and-answer period, citizens asked the committee members about safety issues, building concerns and private property rights.
The planners and committee members reassured the public, noting that private property rights would be respected and that each individiual towns laws and resolutions for buildings and other matters would still be followed.
Town of Fremont Supervisor Jim Greier said that many in the town were opposed to the byway concept when it was first discussed last year. But they seem to have changed their minds.
Each town [along the byway] would have local control, Greier commented. Its a win-win situation.
Truppi said that the draft of the enhancement concept of the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway would be presented to the New York State Scenic Byways Advisory Board on April 11. The board would then spend the next two or three months reviewing the draft.
Following the review, the involved entities would formally choose whether or not to become a part of the byway. Truppi estimated that the official byway designation would occur sometime this fall.