CALLICOON, NY — A century ago, the Callicoon train station held crowds: people getting on trains, getting off trains, meeting family, stopping by to see if anything interesting was going …
CALLICOON, NY — A century ago, the Callicoon train station held crowds: people getting on trains, getting off trains, meeting family, stopping by to see if anything interesting was going on.
It could happen again. The Callicoon Business Association (CBA) has signed a long-term lease with the Central New York Railroad Corporation to ultimately create an indoor/outdoor public space and a visitor center for the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway (UDSB).
“It’s such a beautiful building,” said John Pizzolato, chair of the UDSB. He called Callicoon “one of the most idyllic of our river communities.”
The first focus will be the visitor center and a headquarters for the UDSB. That group’s mission is to highlight and enhance the beauty of the Route 97 corridor, from Hancock, through the stunning Hawk’s Nest to Port Jervis, along the winding river and the hamlets that have grown up beside it.
Callicoon is at about the center point, Pizzolato said.
Four years ago, a group of local residents started working on the project. Partnerships were formed with the UDSB and the CBA, and the original group became a CBA subcommittee called the Depot Committee. (That committee will eventually become the Callicoon Depot, Inc.) The coalition cleaned the site up, used it for CBA events like Dickens on the Delaware and began planning for the future. And, less obviously, they went about the grunt work of assessing the building, creating a business plan and sourcing funds.
That was successful: $450,000 in total, including a $250,000 state grant assigned by the scenic byway. “It became an opportunity when the business association took over,” Pizzolato said. “We thought we should combine our efforts.”
Increasing tourism has become a goal for the UDSB, and so a visitor center was a logical step. It would have brochures on area attractions, maps, a public restroom and a small museum. “We’re excited about communicating the history of the area” and the importance of the railroads, he said.
They met with Sullivan County Clerk Russell Reeves about using the site for a mobile motor vehicles department, a boon for those in western Sullivan who have trouble making the trek to Monticello.
“It’s a focus for the entire region,” Pizzolato said. “It could be a hub... river communities have their own needs. We like to promote traditional uses of the area.”
“Every aspect of this project is for our community to have a central spot just for them to relax, inside and out,” said John Erik Karkula, co-chair of the depot committee and the construction manager. “The depot will be an active, lively, accessible space with public restrooms and other public spaces right in the center of town.”
Further project phases, according to a statement from the UDSB, will be guided by community outreach and public input. The depot could host a variety of community functions such as exhibits, meetings, events, performances, workshops, classes, small-business support and private events.
On the exterior, landscaping and grading would create a “town commons” with outdoor seating and a stage.
A hamlet-wide parking study has been conducted and the results will be released shortly.
“The CBA members are elated the depot lease is now signed,” said Patti Moorhead, current president of the CBA. “The revitalization of the station will benefit and invigorate the entire community for many years to come.”