Dan Hust | Democrat
Legislature Chairman Scott Samuelson give his State of the County speech last Thursday.
Hope versus reality
Story by Dan Hust
MONTICELLO May 28, 2013 Legislature Chairman Scott Samuelson’s State of the County Address held both optimism and discouraging reality along with one surprise.
“After some initial discussions and potentially located at the site of the Apollo Plaza, an Economic Development One-Stop [Center] would bring our Visitors Association, Partnership for Economic Development, Chamber of Commerce, Workforce Development and Industrial Development Agency together, in tandem with our county planning department,” he told the audience Thursday at the Government Center.
“They will work toward a common goal, sharing knowledge and resources and collectively welcoming business into the county,” he continued. “This will help develop the economic future of Sullivan County and strengthen our position in the Mid-Hudson Region.
“Coupled with a Visitor Center at the site, the One-Stop would serve as a welcome center for those visiting Sullivan County for both business and pleasure, with an easy-on-and-off access at the base of the Apollo project entry.”
The idea is not new, having been floated most recently by Samuelson’s predecessor as chair, Legislator Jonathan Rouis.
But its location at the Apollo has thus far not been a part of the public discussions regarding Butch Resnick’s plan to obtain the property from the county to create a supermarket there.
And whether the various agencies (some of whom are independent of the county) would agree to a centralized location is uncertain as, for example, the Chamber’s leadership currently motors around the county in an RV, rather than a bricks-and-mortar office.
But there are more certain bright spots in the county’s future, with Samuelson mentioning the Concord’s redevelopment, the Center for Discovery’s Regional Children’s Assessment Center, and Bethel Woods’ Conservatory.
He also highlighted ongoing county efforts to create a food hub, slaughterhouse and dairy processing plant, emphasizing the critical partnerships county government has with Cornell Cooperative Extension and SUNY Sullivan.
Samuelson also credited various county divisions, mentioning that a permanent county manager appointment is “in the very near future” (though he noted Acting County Manager Josh Potosek “has exceeded all expectations”).
Yet he recognized that all is not well in Sullivan County.
“The county’s unemployment rate in January 2013 was above 11 percent, and our property owners are struggling more and more every year to pay their tax bills,” Samuelson affirmed. “We must find a means to alleviate that burden.”
He indicated further cuts at the county level aren’t much of an option anymore and must be replaced by new revenue opportunities.
“Events that occurred earlier this week at Catskill Regional Medical Center and our sympathies go out to all those affected only serve to highlight the fact that we need to remain focused on the creation of quality private-sector job opportunities for our residents, and this Legislature has an obligation to deliver results.
“... Sustainable economic development must be the number one priority of the Sullivan County Legislature if we are to continue to survive and ultimately thrive as a county.”
For the complete State of the County Address, visit www.webapps.co. sullivan.ny.us/DOCS/BOL/2013StateofCountyAddress_05.23.2013.pdf