Sullivan County Democrat
Callicoon, New York
June 18, 2013 Issue
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Dan Hust | Democrat

Kevin Vertrees, left, pitches “The Solution Project” group’s ideas for the Narrowsburg campus to the Sullivan West school board Thursday night. The group is apparently one of four interested in purchasing the closed school from SW.

Four suitors for shuttered SW school

By Dan Hust
LAKE HUNTINGTON — Sullivan West has at least four separate parties interested in its closed Narrowsburg campus, and one of those parties is also interested in Delaware Valley in Callicoon.
SW Supt. Ken Hilton confirmed this to the board at its regular meeting in Lake Huntington on Thursday, shortly after a presentation from one of those parties.
Kevin Vertrees, who with wife Andrea Reynosa owns SkyDog Farm outside Narrowsburg, told the school board that a group of friends and investors had come up with “The Solution Project” in the wake of developer Ilwon Kang’s decision to abandon his plans for the Narrowsburg campus.
The group includes Narrowsburg Chamber of Commerce President Jane Luchsinger and Callicoon Center farmer Dick Riseling, both of whom were present. Riseling in 2010 had pitched a community center idea for the Narrowsburg school.
Vertrees was light on details – not just because other individuals and groups might compete for the campus, but because the idea is still fluid. Indeed, he offered to sit down with the board to let it help shape the building’s future uses.
Vertrees did confirm that the group, which has already formed a nonprofit, is interested in both the 73-year-old building and the 14 acres down the hill. They announced no plans for or interest in DV.
Vertrees said members of his group – which was born out of a supper club that meets regularly on his property – have preliminarily discussed their plans for a “multi-use facility” with Bethel Woods, the Center for Discovery and several unidentified universities.
“In general, the feedback has been very positive,” he said.
That includes a survey he conducted of around 90 Narrowsburg-area residents, visitors and businesspeople, who indicated they wanted space not just for the community, artisans and craftspeople but also something that would create jobs.
Vertrees said the group has members ready to make an offer, but the district is interested in first hearing from all the interested parties. None of the other parties have made a public presentation to the board yet, nor been publicly identified.
“It’s just going to be like selling a house at this point,” said Hilton.
To that end, the board informally chose John Hector to be the real estate agent in the sale. He was one of two agents who submitted bids, both asking for a five percent commission.
Hector, who likely will be formally chosen by the board at its March 1 meeting, also promised to list the campuses with Sotheby’s, a firm involved in upscale properties like the Chaplin Estate.
The board also informally agreed to stick with the campuses’ appraised values ($700,000 for Narrowsburg and $2.3 million for DV) as asking prices but acknowledged that they will consider all offers.

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