Alan J. Sorensen
Legislator District 9
Sullivan County, New York
Sullivan County at Crossroads for Smart Growth
It's not too early to begin to plan for the transition from "Desperation Economics" to "Growth Management"
by Alan Sorensen
"We shape our buildings, thereafter our buildings shape us." - Winston Churchill
It's official: On Nov. 5, 2013, New York voters overwhelming approved a state constitutional amendment authorizing up to seven Las Vegas-style casinos.
Soon the New York State Gaming Commission will chose the location for up to four (4) casinos in three regions - the Catskills, the Albany-Saratoga area and the Binghamton region. Of these, potentially two casinos could be situated within Sullivan County, which could help to stimulate a new era of economic growth.
With the prospect of at least one casino destination resort coming to Sullivan County, it is not too early to begin to plan for the transition from "Desperation Economics" (i.e. taking any economic development that comes our way) to "Growth Management" where we begin to shape new development to enhance our built environment.
Indeed our long-term economic vitality depends on creating a quality built tourism environment that gives visitors a reason to want to return time-and-time again.
Communities like Saratoga, NY or the State of Vermont historically have understood this principal for decades. They have become not only tourist destinations, but also places where businesses have chosen to locate due to the aesthetically pleasing built environment, protection of natural resources and the quality of life these communities offer their residents.
Now, with casinos and other major projects coming in the near future to Sullivan County, we need to aspire to such standards.
Without question, Sullivan County boasts some of the most scenic natural resources in NYS including, but not limited to, the Shawangunks, the Bashakill, the Neversink River Valley, the Catskill Park and the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River - the latter a National Park.
We also have the world class Bethel Performing Arts Center, which is an excellent example of smart development which is aesthetically pleasing and well-placed within the bucolic landscape that surrounds it.
So here's some important questions:
• Will the new nonresidential and residential development around these new resorts and projects become attractive gateways to the entrances of our new resort hotels, or will they instead become a landscape of billboards and strip retail establishments that forever scare the natural scenic beauty of our County?In the future, will the recreational amenities only be those available to the people who visit the resorts?
• Will County and local governments work together to develop rail-trails and other public recreational and cultural amenities to improve the quality of life for all residents, while also enhancing the visitor experience?
• In other words, should we evolve into the next Saratoga, NY or Burlington, Vermont or do we devolve into just another honky-tonk landscape, which are a dime a dozen throughout the United States?
These are questions we need to start asking today.
I would argue the long-term sustainability and economic viability of Sullivan County depends upon our communities working together to shape new development and tourism infrastructure around these resorts in an aesthetically pleasing manner, which complements rather than detracts from the natural scenic beauty of Sullivan County.
We have a unique opportunity to differentiate ourselves from nearby competition in the Poconos and Atlantic City, by shaping the built environment around our resorts that is first class.
Now is the time for Smart Development in Sullivan County.
Bottom Line: In our new era of economic development, visitors who enter Sullivan County in the future should have a sense that they are entering a unique environment where new economic development harmonizes with the natural exquisiteness of our region.
If we provide that experience, we will not only draw visitors who come to our resorts, but also attract other companies and residents who want to locate in an area that offers such a high quality of life.
It is an honor to serve you as the District 9 Legislator for Sullivan County, NY!
Since January 2008, I have been representing the 9th Legislative District, fighting for open government, fiscally responsible spending, and addressing the needs of my constituents and the business community.
In 2009, I started this Outreach Blog to keep you informed of my efforts on behalf of the residents of my district and Sullivan County. This website is dedicated to keeping the people of District 9 and Sullivan County informed of the latest issues being debated and developments arising from actions taken by the County Legislature.
I hope to publish on this website my opinion of the critical issues surrounding our community and to keep you posted of news, events, and other important information about Sullivan County government and community.
Thank you for your continued support!-Alan
The County Legislative meets at the County Government Center in Monticello every third Thursday of the month. Regularly scheduled County Legislative committee meetings take place on the First and Second Thursdays of the month in the County Legislative Chambers. The meetings begin at 9:00 am.
County of Sullivan Website:
Town of Thompson Website:
Village of Monticello Website:
New York State Website: