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December 19, 2014
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Competitors for the Narrowsburg School speak


NARROWSBURG, NY — This week The River Reporter received press releases from both parties that have placed bids to purchase the old Narrowsburg Central School from the Sullivan West School District. We print these statements here for your perusal.

Press Release from Changes Treatment and Recovery, Inc. (6/16/14)
Recognizing the need for additional services to address the problem of addiction in Sullivan County, Changes Treatment and Recovery, Inc., a tax-paying, for-profit program, seeks to open an inpatient treatment facility at the former Narrowsburg School building. Changes currently operates a successful inpatient program in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, with a 30-bed facility offering programs for partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and outpatient programming. The program planned for the vacant school building includes medical offices, meeting rooms and inpatient facilities for approximately 30 to 40 clients. Clients do not live long-term at the facility; once they have completed the program, they return home.

Subject to review by the Tusten Planning Board, this project will provide employment for professionals, para-professionals and staff at wages reflective of their education, training and skills in the long run and for construction and related building trades in the short run.

In addition, the facility will be paying taxes and supporting the local businesses in the area.

Changes is a family-owned-and-operated facility, and we have elected to remain small and intimate, allowing us the ability to provide individualized care and personal attention to each client. We strongly believe this approach distinguishes us from other facilities and is one of the many reasons why Changes has achieved, and is still achieving, a high success rate of recovery, maintained abstinence and satisfaction from participants and their families.

We believe the former school building is ideal for this program. Architect, David Wieboldt, who among his projects counts the New Hope Manor Treatment Center, will be working with us on this project, joining Martin S. Miller, an attorney in Sullivan County, who has extensive land-use experience, which includes an inpatient addiction treatment facility. We have also met with Joe Todora, the commissioner of mental health, in regard to our licensing in New York.

The program does not seek taxpayer support. The costs of our clients’ treatment is paid by insurance or self-pay, Changes will be offering limited scholarships to our neighbors in Sullivan County for those who qualify and can’t afford treatment.
We believe this is a win-win situation for all: lives will be saved, taxes will be paid, jobs will be created and local vendors will be supported. We look forward to becoming part of the community and working with other organizations to help decrease the substance abuse issues in the county. Please help us make people who feel lost, find themselves again. Anybody can quit drugs, but they must be taught how to stay off drugs, feel whole again, regain their self-confidence and respect, so they can live a productive life.

Brendan and Kathy Weiden, Statement to the Press (6/16/14)

We continue in the advancement of our plan to develop the Narrowsburg School building as a multi-use facility to support education, arts, agriculture and food, municipal needs, fitness and wellness, recreation and tourism, with venue space for special events, private and public, and office space. We introduced ourselves to the Sullivan West School Board at their regular meeting on Thursday, June 12 and described our vision to the board. Although the board did not have any questions for us at the meeting, there were approximately 40 citizens from Narrowsburg present in support of our plan. Several citizens spoke publicly about their support for our plan. There were no public statements in opposition to our plan, nor were any made in favor of any other proposal or plan.

In a process that began in late 2013, we have accomplished the following:
• Retained Buck Moorhead as architect;
• Retained Jacobowitz and Gubits, a well-respected law firm with an office in Sullivan County with extensive experience in real projects throughout Orange and Sullivan counties, including re-development projects;
• Assembled a team of advisors that include an event professional and a fitness and physical therapy professional;
• Met with several members of the town board to discuss our plan, including use by the Town of Tusten of the ball fields located on the nearby 14 acres if and when use of the ball fields are no longer required by the Sullivan West School Board;
• Met with the Tusten code enforcement officer and the chairman of the planning board to seek preliminary approval of concept:
• Obtained the following information from the Tusten code enforcement officer and the chairman with respect to the plan we outlined:
o Our plan conforms with current zoning and no zoning variances will be required;
o Our plan conforms to building code requirements, and no building code variances will be required;
o All of the occupancies envisioned in our plan require "special permits," which are procedural applications for permitted uses;
o Our plan conforms with the Tusten Master Plan, adopted by the town board in December 2013;
o Our plan does not negatively impact the municipal water and sewer system;
• We have held discussions and received enthusiastic expressions of interest and support for the plan from potential users including Sullivan County Community College, the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance, The Weekend of Chamber Music, as well as many offers to connect us with other organizations and individuals needing the type of space we plan to offer;
• We have met with Fr. James Scully, pastor of St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church, neighbor to school on the east side, to discuss how the two parties can work cooperatively together;
• We have met-with and/or discussed our plan with many of the Narrowsburg legacy families, the newer residents to the area, and families who frequent the area as part-time residents, and all parties have expressed support and enthusiasm for our plan.

We will continue our listening tour with the Narrowsburg citizens as we continue to develop our plan.

We are aware of a competing offer to utilize the school building and nearby acres as a drug and alcohol residential treatment facility. We compassionately recognize that such a service is needed to help those who suffer from addictions, and if done well, like the Betty Ford Treatment Center in Rancho Mirage, CA, such a facility can be an asset to a community. However, we believe that such a facility, if executed in the middle of the Hamlet of Narrowsburg, would dominate the hamlet and constrain the thoughtful development engineered by its citizens to advance the community in a manner that preserves its special character and respects the unique qualities of the Upper Delaware Valley. The placement of this facility in the downtown hamlet would drastically change the character and nature of Narrowsburg.
We welcome the Butos [from Changes Treatment and Recovery, Inc.] to the Upper Delaware Valley and are willing to work cooperatively with them to find a more appropriate site for the facility they propose.