[The below, lightly edited for length, is an FAQ on the Narrowsburg Waterfront Revitalization project approved by the Tusten Town Board on April 4. For the full-length version click here. ]
1. Why is the new town board forcing us to go ahead with the Main Street Revitalization Project?
This project has been discussed and supported by four previous town boards under supervisors Crandall, Johnson, Harrison and now Wingert. It was part of a comprehensive plan for the town submitted by a planner, Tom Shepstone, in 1996. An article in The River Reporter (3/29/12) cites discussion of the project as far back as 1983. It has a long history of support.
2. Why are we spending $75,000 on engineering plans if we don’t know whether we can even build this project in the future?
Given the long-held desire for a river walk, planning board chairman Ed Jackson secured a $77,000 Waterfront Revitalization Grant in late 2009. In a unanimous 5-0 vote on September 14, 2009, the town board moved to proceed with the project using the $77,000 grant money and town money taken from “unreserved and unallocated fund balances.” The same resolution recognized the “ability to further solicit monies to decrease the local share.” That’s still the case.
The engineering plan will enable the town to determine the steps it needs to take to create the project.
3. Aren’t Main Street property owners required to make easements for the project to go forward?
Some parts of the project require easements over private property. However, the town can only ask for them when it has an engineer’s plan with architectural and design concepts in hand.
The engineer’s plan does not commit the town to build the project right away. It could take years, or even decades. The initial stages of the project all take place on public property, where no easements are required.
The engineer’s plan gives the town the vision to begin and the roadmap to continue the Main Street Revitalization project for the hamlet of Narrowsburg and the Town of Tusten.
4. Couldn’t all or part of this $77,000 state grant be used for other things?
The Waterfront Revitalization Grant can only be used for this project. Like many grants, it is a “use it or lose it” opportunity.
5. I hear that that this project is going to cost $1 million. How are we going to afford to live here if our taxes go up?
As stated above, it’s unlikely that the town will be able to tackle this project in one fell swoop. And, just as we have done with paying for the engineer’s draft, we intend to fund this project with state and other matching grants. A town the size of Tusten cannot undertake a project of this magnitude in any other way.
6. What about maintenance costs?
Any river walk would be maintained by the highway department and cost the same to maintain as any similar stretch of road. It could even cost less, because it’s difficult to envision why snow would have to be removed from the walkway during the winter months.
7. I hear that this project will benefit the few at the expense of the many. Please explain.
Attracting more visitors to town will result in more business and bring more customers, visitors, and potential home buyers and investors to Tusten. That can only increase the value of everyone’s home. And a study by the National Park Service showed that more than 300,000 people visited the Upper Delaware in 2010, each spending an average of $30 while here. Increasing this flow of tourists to our town by means of the Main Street Revitalization Project is a common sense goal for Tusten. That’s a win-win situation that the town boards have recognized for decades and that the existing board will not pass up.