Progress! Steps forward to some are backward to others and defining the concept is just the first step in assessing the current state of affairs in the region. But by nearly every measure we can study, the area can boast some significant progress in 2018. The News staff tends to lean toward the optimistic with a sort of “rose colored glasses” perspective when it comes to looking at progress. But this year, it’s a position easily defended.
The number of business transitions continued to increase last year, with a record number of operations, more than three dozen, opened, sold to new owners and/or expanded. From the sale of what is now ArkBowl to the change in ownership at Oakley’s in Arkville, restaurants or would be restaurants led the economic stimulus for the year. The sale and re-opening of the new Binnekill Tavern gave Margaretville’s Main Street a badly needed boost. The community then got double the good news with the opening of Trattoria Locale, also on the Main Street, late in the year. But in Margaretville, the business scene continued to pop through the entire year. HoneyBee Herbs opened in Margaretville and two vacant Main Street anchor buildings, the Galli Curci Movie Theater and the Miller’s Drug Store building were both sold and face bright futures in the coming year.
Kimchee Harvest and Liberal Arts Roxbury were welcomed in that community, as was a new Windstar Realty office opening in Grand Gorge. Two venerable Roxbury insurance agencies, the Morse Wilson Agency and Jim Cutitta’s Insurance were sold and merged by new owners, the Hughson and Benson Agency.
Not to be outdone, Andes welcomed Wild Common Wines to its Main Street as well as the studio of artist Peter Calvert, and saw new life breathed into the vacant Cantina building. Dirty Girl Goat Farm completed its move to Andes, bringing a working farm back to the heart of the community and supporting a growing farm stand operation. The Andes General Store returned to daily operation after a long closure and the Andel Inn became FoodWorks Plus and the Harvest Café despite some attendant controversy.
In Arkville, the Delaware & Ulster Railroad roared back to life bringing bus loads of riders to the area and Two Stones Farm Store in Fleischmanns and Maeve’s Coffee Shop in Pine Hill added vibrancy to those communities. In Bovina, the Dry Town Tavern Inn opened its doors and in Delhi, Rays Fine Wines became Dixie’s. Catskill Momos opened in Delhi in December, adding another restaurant to the scene. The Shire Pub came back to life after a fire closed it in 2017, and all of the county is served by the Delhi Rehabilitation and Nursing Center which welcomed residents in 2018.
Like Margaretville, Phoenicia saw major growth and change with the opening of four new businesses including Catskills Clothing Company, Enso’s Gallery, Woodstock Brewing and a change in ownership and energy for the Graham & Co. The Phoenicia Theater got a new lease on life in 2018 with an active and engaged leadership team and the Phoenicia Open Market continued to re-invent the space once occupied by the Phoenicia Pharmacy.
Two businesses opened in 2018 on the “we’ll go to you” model. The innovative Table to Farm Tours Company has reversed the farm to table restaurant concept that is driving the food economy in this early part of the 21st century. Knowing that people appreciate farm fresh foods in restaurants the Table to Farm team makes the connections that actually get the visitors to see the farms where much of the food originates. Carrie Cowan’s Home Services opened in 2018 taking the concept of a home cleaning service to a whole new level by adding everything from pet care and plant watering to hauling wood, getting groceries or whatever a homeowner might need done.
Franklin Eyewear, initiated as a traveling optometric service provided glasses and repairs for people from throughout Delaware County added an optometrist to the team and established permanent locations in both Franklin and Delhi in 2018.
The Roxbury Motel continued a major expansion that began in 2017 throughout the year and its Stratton Falls site promises to be spectacular and award winning when it is completed. The Belleayre Resort project knocked down the last legal obstacles to construction and moved forward to the process of seeking development partners. The Historic Society of Middletown announced a major expansion program in 2018. And during the summer months, not only did Delaware County get its own film festival, but two movies were shot in the region bringing both economic activity and excitement throughout the summer.
Though business sales and expansions made the headlines, the economy was also fueled by those who more quietly expanded hours, added products or services and kept plugging away at what they do in a positive and steady way. Union Grove Distillery continues to be a major asset to the community, from the provision of a badly needed public event space to the purchases it makes from local farmers as it expands the line of spirits offered to include not just vodka, but whiskey too. The Margaretville Telephone Company has significantly increased the number of communities it serves with cable television and its collaboration with Delaware County Electric Cooperative has delivered high-speed broadband to the most rural parts of this rural area. Together with Delhi Telephone Company, these utility providers are enhancing the economy by making telecommuting not just possible, but seamless.
Catskill Watershed Corporation ground breaking
A force in the region since the first Memorandum of Agreement was reached with the State of New York and the City of New York, the Catskill Watershed Corporation has delivered infrastructure improvements, low interest business development loans and consulting and educational services to the region since its inception. In 2018 the group took one of its biggest steps yet in cooperation with the City of New York and broke ground on an major office building that will bring 26 full time DEP staffers to work in the region along side those who currently staff the CWC.
Construction of the $19 million complex began in earnest last fall and will continue through 2019, with occupancy expected in early 2020.
Health care delivery improves
The delivery of health care services continued to improve during 2018. In addition to the opening of the
Delhi Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, Margaretville Hospital brought a new physician to the region and added additional telemetry services for cardiac patients to its already robust offerings in the field using funds raised by the Hospital Auxiliary and the Margaretville Health Foundation.
Business community members upbeat
With more than three dozen major business changes or expansions in a single year, and even more expanding their operations, it’s safe to report progress in the local economy. Added to the empirical evidence is the anecdotal evidence provided by professionals in various business sectors in the region. Tourism remains strong says Tamara Murray of the Emerson Resort and Spa. Business there was up again in 2018, with a wide variety of factors playing a role in the increase.
So too the real estate industry. Coldwell Banker Timberland Properties had yet another banner year in 2018 according to Eric Wedemeyer who sold the nearly 50 year old firm in 2017 but remains active in the industry. The wedding industry is stronger than ever says Twisted Sister’s Candace Rudd, with wedding parties booking earlier each year so couples can secure their choice dates, times and services. According to New York City DEP officials, the number of boaters using reservoirs in the region was up this year despite the record rainfalls received during summer months.
Arts continue to fuel economy
Both visual and performing arts continue to be a vibrant part of the region’s economy. The Roxbury Arts Group will move into its 40 th. Anniversary year stronger than ever. In addition to its own offerings, RAG administers decentralization grants to individual artists enhancing the industry from the ground up. Organizations from the Maverick Concerts and Woodstock Playhouse to the Franklin Stage Company and Honest Brook Music Festival are increasing the number or events they stage as a growing audience seeks diverse entertainment options. The Hobart Book Village Women’s Writers Conference in September pulled a great audience throughout the weekend.
Milestones demonstrate longevity
Milestones celebrated during 2018 were also important signs of health in the economic and social fabric of the community. Major anniversaries of businesses and organizations demonstrated staying power in an area where some businesses don’t make it through their first year. Fiddler’s 25, an annual event staged by the Roxbury Arts Group hit 25 this year while Maine Black Bear Seafood in Arkville turned 35. The MARK Project, which supports economic and social development throughout the region turned 40. BOCES, the career and technical school for the region celebrated its 50th anniversary in Grand Gorge as did the Margaretville Hospital Flea Market and the Heart of the Catskills Humane Society in Delhi, to 75 years for the Delaware County Electric Cooperative to a whopping 100 years for the B’Nai Israel Congregation in Fleischmanns.
Progress! By any measure, The News is pleased to showcase incredible progress during the last year and to look forward in these pages, to even greater progress in 2019.