By Amanda Loviza
FERNDALE — In a speech that described a “renaissance” in Sullivan County, District 6 Legislator Luis Alvarez specifically named the hamlet of Hurleyville as a community that epitomizes the revitalization of the tired Borscht Belt region.
Alvarez, who serves as chairman of the county legislature, gave the annual State of the County address in front of about 75 people at the Cablevision building in Ferndale on March 16. His theme was “Let’s walk together,” as he talked about an economic comeback in the county.
Tourism brought in $26 million in tax revenue last year, Alvarez said, and he believes it will be “stronger than ever” with upcoming projects like Montreign Resort Casino at Adelaar and Veria Wellness Center. Outdoor activity projects like the O&W Rail Trail and a bike path between Loch Sheldrake and Hurleyville will bring in outdoorsy visitors, Alvarez said, and provide fitness opportunities for residents as the county works to fight its low health ranking. Alvarez praised The Center for Discovery for its work on both projects, and SUNY Sullivan for its help with the bike path. The Center for Discovery has spearheaded tens of millions of dollars in investment into the county, Alvarez said, and it has helped transform the hamlet of Hurleyville into a creative, vibrant and inclusive community.
“If you get a chance, those of you who haven’t seen it, take a moment and look what Hurleyville looks like today and the amount of work that’s been done there,” Alvarez said, also complimenting the performing arts center. “They’ve done a great job, great work there.”
Economically, the county will focus on “shovel-ready” sites for business development, Alvarez said, and use its newly formed land bank to revitalize and redevelop derelict properties. New industries like the Metallized Carbon Corporation factory in the Town of Fallsburg are already building a bright economic future for the county, the chairman said.
The citizens of Sullivan County are its most valuable resource, Alvarez said, and he wants to see more young people staying in the county and building a life here. He encouraged residents to attend meetings, give public comment and work with legislators, even run for office. As the first Hispanic chairman of the legislature, Alvarez called himself living proof that there is equal opportunity for everyone in Sullivan County.
“Let’s walk together toward the prosperity and health we deserve,” Alvarez said. “This, right now, is our time.”