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December 07, 2016
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Gillibrand, Gibson support Narrowsburg School project

The vision for the future of the Narrowsburg School includes roof-top gardening, a hydroponic garden, a solar electric installation and solar thermal installation.
Contributed photo

The vision of the future of the Narrowsburg School, as developed by The Solution Project (TSP), continues to garner support from various quarters. Most recently Senator Kirsten Gillibrand voiced support for the effort.

On July 24, Gillibrand wrote a letter to Kenneth Adams, president and CEO of Empire State Development, in support of a grant application for the TSP, and their plan to purchase the Narrowsburg School and turn it into a center dedicated to food and agriculture.

She wrote, “The funding would be used to repurpose 30,000 square feet of the Narrowsburg School to foster community education and ‘agripreneurship’ with the creation of a regional food hub. This food hub would encourage small farm development and support by partnering with SUNY Sullivan to train a new workforce and develop Sustainable Certification programs. Solution Project will also work with commercial kitchens and mixed-use commercial spaces for diversified incubator business ventures and community organizations. This food hub will capitalize on the region’s assets while also helping to grow the regional agricultural economy.”

That followed a letter from Congressman Chris Gibson in which he wrote, “The proposal put forward by TSP emphasizes that local food production is experiencing a renaissance in the Upper Delaware River Basin, and that local communities benefit from the success in many ways—such as the bounty of food and craft items available at local farmers’ markets, and ‘farm to table’ venues which continue to attract visitors from urban areas such as New York City.”

He continued, “A food hub with a community kitchen, as proposed by TSP, will provide a critical component to support the local small family farms and related small businesses by providing access to markets not presently accessible, in conjunction with the ability to produce value-added food products that would require individual and often redundant operations.”

Support for the project from elected officials in Washington, DC comes in addition to broad local and regional support. People who have written letters of support include Senator John Bonacic; Kevin Bone, director of The Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design; Gregory Sandor, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Sullivan County; Karin Hilgersom, president of Sullivan County Community College; Alan Scott, president of the Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency; Scott Samuelson, chairman of the Sullivan County Legislature; Dan Sturm, supervisor of the Town of Bethel; and Darlene Fedun, chief executive officer of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.

Andrea Reynosa, the president of TSP, said the grant applied for through the consolidated funding application process, in which local grants are applied for through the Mid-Hudson Regional Council, is for $162,000, which represents 20% of the acquisition cost of the school and the acreage with the ball field on Kirk Road.

Jennifer Grossman, a lawyer and vice-president of TSP and a resident of Livingston Manor, said that negotiations with the Sullivan West School District over the purchase of the facility are ongoing. She also said the organization is aggressively seeking funding not only from grants, but also private investors, and seeking anchor tenants that might be interested in setting up shop in the facility.