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April 18, 2014
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Narrowsburg sale may go to voters

By Fritz Mayer

Petitions signed by voters in the Sullivan West Central School District, which may force a voter referendum on the sale of the Narrowsburg School, were delivered to superintendent Dr. Ken Hilton on January 3.

According to Dick Riseling, the resident who had put in a rejected bid to purchase the school, there were 1,255 signatures opposing the sale which, according to everyone involved, is enough to trigger the referendum and, according to Riseling, is 200 more than needed.

Hilton, however, said that the signatures need to be verified and that he and the school board lawyer, John Miller, were examining the district’s options.

Riseling said in an email that there is a possibility that the school board would reject the petitions because Miller had objections to the wording used.

On a separate petition, there were 638 signatures regarding the sale of the Delaware Valley School, not enough to trigger a voter referendum. Therefore, developer Ilwon Kang’s bid to buy that facility for $2.3 million remains in place, and that deal will likely move forward.

Kang has said that he would possibly use the Narrowsburg School as some sort of “annex” to a larger hospitality project located elsewhere in Sullivan County. Riseling has said he would use the school as a community center with space sold to local artists or others in the community, and the building could include a creamery and commercial kitchen.

Riseling and his supporters say both bids were flawed, which should have prompted an auction as called for in the bidding procedures, but Kang and Hilton say Kang’s bid was not flawed.

Hilton said there should be a determination regarding the signatures on the Narrowsburg petition in time for the next school board meeting, which is scheduled for January 6 at 7 pm at the high school in Lake Huntington.

Another issue that has arisen is whether the school board members have the right to see financial information that Kang has provided to the school’s attorney regarding his ability to follow through on the purchase of the two schools.

Noel van Swol, a board member who opposed the sale of both schools to Kang, has filed a Freedom of Information Law Request to be able to see that information. Hilton said the lawyer had seen the information and he and most of the board members were convinced that Kang has deep enough pockets to purchase the school, which is all they need to know.

Van Swol wants the information to be made public so the public and the press can verify Kang’s ability to move forward with the deals.