By Jeanne Sager
LIVINGSTON MANOR April 25, 2003 At long last, its here.
A secretive press conference was the talk of the town in Livingston Manor Tuesday morning, and whispers that the tiny hamlet would finally be getting a new pharmacy became voices around 10:30 a.m.
An Iowa-based pharmacy chain is moving into Manor come summer, opening up an apothecary-style store on Main Street in the old Seigel Department Store, a building owned and renovated by Steve Wilkinson and Gerard Ilaria of Catskill Morning Farm, a restaurant/gift shop right up the road.
Its been a long time coming, said Town of Rockland Supervisor Pat Pomeroy. The Medicap corporation has been looking at Manor as a possible site for their first New York store for a few years. The demographics were right, and there was a definite need.
Theyd even found their way to the couple from Catskill Morning Farm who have been buying up spots on Main Street to renovate and work into the plans of their corporation, the LMDC (Livingston Manor Development Corporation).
With town planning and the active Sullivan Renaissance projects going on in Manor, there has been an emphasis in the past two years to get some community input.
All they heard, Ilaria said, was pharmacy, pharmacy, pharmacy.
By last year, it seemed like they had a sure thing on their hands, he continued.
But then the pharmacist fell through, and so did the entire project.
Until a few months ago. A Howard Beach man by the name of Mark Wegener called up the real estate office of Elliott and Pomeroy, which, it just so happens is owned by the towns supervisor.
Pomeroys agents, Keyna Hust and Carole Barotti, learned Wegener was a Manhattan pharmacist hoping to relocate to Sullivan County permanently with wife Phyllis. They also remembered their boss discussing the failed pharmacy venture in Manor.
They figured Wegener might just be the ticket to fill the prescription.
And that, as they say, got the proverbial ball rolling. Pomeroy grabbed the phone and called Ilaria and Wilkinson. They, in turn, tracked down their numbers for Medicap.
Now Wegener has a full-time job to look forward to, and Manor will have a pharmacy.
Depending on licensure, and some work with the Sullivan County Planning Department on matching the buildings facade to Main Street planning, the new site will open at 43 Main Street in June or July.
The store will have a drive-up window, a place for one-on-one counseling with the pharmacist as well as over-the-counter medications.
We wont be selling motor oil or potato chips at the Livingston Manor Medicap, Ilaria said.
Those needs are met elsewhere in town the need of the pharmacy is the main focus of this venture.
The last pharmacy closed on Main Street in 1998. Housed almost directly across the street, the doors of Central Pharmacy swung closed with the retirement of the towns only pharmacist, Alan Fishman.
Since then, Ilaria said, folks in the Manor/Roscoe area have had to drive a relatively long distance to get their medicines. Those who dont have cars have an even tougher time.
The closest pharmacies are in Jeffersonville or Liberty, at least a half-hour round trip from the Manor.
Ilaria, who works at Catskill Regional Medical Center, has seen the need to change that himself.
I know the essential ingredients to make healthcare work, he said. One is prescriptions.
There was an air of excitement rippling through the chilly air at Tuesday mornings press conference, but also one of remembrance.
Lee and Margie Siegel, longtime owners of 43 Main, were saying goodbye to their building.
Though the couple retired in 1982, shutting the doors on a family business that dated back to 1910, the structure hasnt been filled since.
I have a lot of mixed feelings, Lee said. This was always some kind of department store.
Were so glad somethings going in there, Margie said, something positive.
I looked the other way when I drove by for all those years.
Now she says shes ready to step back over the threshold this time as a customer.
Livingston Manor needed this, she noted.
Wegener is as overjoyed with the prospects as his new clients.
Can you imagine you call up the real estate agent and find out theres a job waiting for me, he said with a laugh.
Wegener said that after three years of commuting an hour and a half to work every day on the subway, this will be a nice change. He purchased a home in Parksville with his wife, and his sister-in-laws family will be living in a second home on the property.
Im out of the driveway, on [Route] 17 and in five minutes, Im here, Wegener said.