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Losing a traffic light, gaining a business; Parksville adjusts to a moved highway

This new interchange on Route 17 has removed the need for the traffic light in the middle of Parksville, NY.


November 30, 2011

For decades the tiny hamlet of Parksville, some four miles north of the Village of Liberty, has been bisected by a four lane highway, Route 17. For the past 10 years or so, the only traffic light located on Route 17 in Sullivan County was right in the middle of Parksville.

In the 1960s, New York State bought land to move the highway out of town and up onto the side of a mountain. Now finally, the highway has been moved, the local roads are being reconfigured, and once drivers become accustomed to the new setup, the traffic light will be removed because of a lack of need.

For the past six years or so, a group of residents called the Parksville Priorities Committee has been meeting in an attempt to conjure up a future for the hamlet once the dramatic change had occurred.

Wes Illing, an engineer and a founding member of the group, has been promoting the idea of the creation of a planned community, but so far town officials have not been very receptive.

What is moving along, however, is a plan by a J.R. Baker, who lives in New York City and who has been involved in meetings of the committee, to turn an empty 8,000-square-foot building on Main Street into a digital production facility.

Illing turned out to a meeting of the Liberty Zoning Board on October 18 to seek a variance, which he received, to allow the project to move forward. Illing said, “That building used to be the old hardware store when I was a kid.” Baker’s plan is that about 90% of the building would be used for making films, commercials and video productions. “The other 10 percent would be for sleeping quarters so they could send staff up here, where they could stay for a week or two, do their work free of all the distractions at home or in the city, and go back with a finished product.”

He said the general idea is not new, and is one that should be pursued more aggressively in Sullivan County. “Corporations are looking for places to send their think tanks, or creative people, someplace remote, without disturbances, to think outside the box.”

He added, “Usually those jobs pay pretty good money, and they are typically college-educated people with good incomes; it’s what we want, it’s good for the community.”

He said the price of real estate in Sullivan County, compared to the price in New York City, made the deal very attractive for the owner.

THE ARTS ARE AN ECONOMIC ENGINE

Artists contribute a great deal to our community. This project will bring life to an aging building ... and provide inspiration to artists from the big city.