By Ted Waddell
FERNDALE March 26, 2002 The folks in Sullivan County know a good thing when they see it, and with a little encouragement, they are ready, willing and able to put their shoulders to the wheel to make their communities a better place to live.
On Thursday, that spirit was showcased at the annual Spring Forum of Sullivan Renaissance 2002, held before a packed house at CVI in Ferndale.
According to founders Sandra and Alan Gerry, Sullivan Renaissance is a project to promote community pride of Sullivan First, Inc. and the Beaverkill #Foundation.
While on vacation in a small town in the French countryside, the Gerrys became entranced by the residents overwhewlming sense of pride in their community, nestled against a magnificant skyline and centuries-old architecture.
In the fall of 2000, Sandra Gerry floated her idea for getting the areas diverse communities to become involved in a grassroots effort to spruce up# the place.
I was a little hesitant to mention it, but Jonathans eyes lit up, she recalled. At the time, Jonathan Drapkin was county manager and was instrumental in Sullivan First, so the groundwork was all ready, she added.
Backed by CVI corporate energy and seed money and sparked by a spirit of friendly neighborhood competition, last years 20 originally funded projects were increased to 30 as the result of outside funding.
Its even won its own award. At the ceremony, Denise Frangipane drew a round of applause when she announced the Upper Delaware Council# (UDC) tabbed Sullivan Renaissance as the recipient of the organizations Outstanding Community Achievement Award, based upon the positive impacts to communities in the Delaware River corridor.
I think its generated a new sense of optimism and community spirit, said Gerry.
This year, a total of 29 projects will be funded around Sullivan County, representing 14 of the countys 15 townships.
Each community was awarded a check in the amount of $1,000, plus another $150 in the form of a voucher from Sullivan First. In addition, numerous area businesses are providing discounts for Sullivan Renaissance undertakings.
Gerry credited the generous support of the business community with allowing us to increase the number of grants we awarded: Community Bank of Sullivan County, First National Bank of Jeffersonville, Jacobowitz & Gubits, NYSEG, Park Place Entertainment, Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Villa Roma Resort and Yeager Realty Associates.
This year, the projects will be divided into three separate categories and will compete for first and second prizes in each division: Category A (1st prize is $3,000 & 2nd prize is $1,500), Category B ($7,500/$5,000) and Category C ($20,000/$10,000).
Category A (seven groups) was designated for single-element projects such as small# gardens or welcome signs; Category B (13 groups) includes projects with more than one element (gazebos, park enhancement or facade renovation); and Category C (nine groups) encompasses multi-element projects like corridor improvement, extensive main street beautification or the creation of a community parkscape.
The first phase of Sullivan Renaissance was the formal awarding of the $1,000 grants and $150 vouchers.
Phase II will# be the judging of the finished projects based upon completion of the project as planned and submission of appropriate documentation, visual impact of the project, demonstration of involvement of youth, additional collaborations, scope, and overall# involvement and appearance of the community.
Sullivan Renaissance 2002 will culminate with an awards ceremony to be held Sunday, August 25 at the Fall Harvest Festival on the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music & Arts Fair and the future location of the performing arts center in Bethel, a joint venture of the Gerry Foundation and the State of New York. The awards ceremony will# be from 11:30 a.m until# 3:30 #p.m.
The 2002 Sullivan Renaissance award recipients (listed by community/project):
Callicoon Main Street (banners and planters)
Callicoon Creek Park (park enhancement)
Forestburgh (bear garden)
Fremont/Hankins (repair stone bridge)
Highland/Eldred (main street/ four corners)
Hortonville (park creation/signs/ gardens)
Hurleyville Sullivan First (welcome signs)
Jeffersonville JEMS (main street project)
Kauneonga Lake/Bethel First (park enhancement)
Liberty ALIVE (main street project)
Livingston Manor Renaissance (main street project)
Lumberland/Pond Eddy (fire house facade)
Monticello Sullivan First on Broadway (Broadway artists market)
Monticello at de Hoyos Park (park enhancement)
Mountaindale (clock/welcome sign).
Narrowsburg (park enhancement)
Neversink (corridor improvement)
North Branch (landscaping/roadside beautification)
Obernburg (park enhancement)
Rock Hill Sullivan First #(ambulance building project)
Roscoe (corridor improvement)
South Fallsburg in Bloom (community garden/planters)
South Fallsburg at the Rivoli Theatre (facade renovation)
South Fallsburg/Sullivan First (mural/gardens)
White Sulphur Springs (firemens park)
Woodbourne (park enhancement/pavilion)
Woodridge (corridor improvement)
Wurtsboro Renaissance (multiple main street projects)
Youngsville (hanging baskets)
As a representative from each community stepped up #to the podium in the CVI corporate auditorium, community delegations cheered on their neighbors: the folks from Rock Hill# unfurled a banner, while people from Jeffersonville and Livingston Manor displayed t-shirts created for the project.
Bill# Klaber talked about the Fremont/Hankins project to restore a unique stone arch bridge spanning Hankins Creek in Hankins, while others talked about refurbishing theatre or firehouse facades or a trio# of ambitious projects in South Fallsburg.
Can you imagine how beautiful #South Fallsburg is going to look at the end of the summer? said Sandra Gerry after the awards ceremony.
According to Glenn Pontier, director of communications for the Gerry Foundation, the response of the communities is what has made the project a success.
Its the volunteers, and its the communities, he said. When you drive around, you can see the difference.
The ceremony itself was a showcase of local involvement, as Gerry kicked off the event with a few words of welcome, Marty Handler served as moderator, Denise Frangipane presented program updates, Jacquie Leventoff explained the merchant discount program and Arlen Siegel discussed the importance of keeping accurate records in the binders provided to each recipent.
The awards were presented by Gerry and Drapkin.
Members of the Sullivan Renaissance steering committee were also present: Gene Blabey, Kathy Davidoff, Annelise Gerry, Joyce Salimeno, and Jerry Skoda.
It really warmed my heart to see all# the extra entries this year its really taken off, said Gerry. More people are participating, because once it started, everyone wanted to join in . . . and we welcome that enthusiasm.
People are making new friends, and neighborhoods are getting together, she added proudly.
For information about Sullivan Renaissance, call 295-2445.