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Sparking life into Monticello

Vincent Kurzrock
Posted 6/14/24

MONTICELLO — Sullivan County Land Bank’s Chair and Operations Director, Jill Weyer, and Rural Sullivan Housing Corporation Operations Director Serra McDowall discussed projects in the …

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Sparking life into Monticello


MONTICELLO — Sullivan County Land Bank’s Chair and Operations Director, Jill Weyer, and Rural Sullivan Housing Corporation Operations Director Serra McDowall discussed projects in the works before the Village of Monticello on Wednesday, June 5.

Weyer explained that the Land Bank is a not-for-profit corporation that was created by Sullivan County to address vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent properties throughout the County. However, she said they are primarily targeting the Village of Liberty and Monticello.

She reiterated Mayor Rochelle Massey’s previously stated comments about teamwork and that they’re all here working together to clean the Village.

“The Land Bank is a tool that you guys can use to clean up some of those vacant and abandoned [properties] that have been lingering around,” stated Weyer.

McDowall then spoke about how she has been administering the Sullivan County Land Bank for the past year through a contract with RUPCO.

Their mission is to strengthen neighborhoods by mitigating blight through strategic property acquisition.

This is an approach designed to create vibrant neighborhoods, increase home ownership, stimulate economic growth and support community development by returning properties to productive use.

“This in turn improves the quality of life for our residents,” explained McDowall. “We are aware of the challenges that come with this mission: financial and legal barriers, along with the risks involved, are significant.”

She said that their organization and their partners understand that proactive efforts by the public sector are crucial in positioning them for fundamental properties for redevelopment.

The priority that they put on site control and picking the right developers for our area was stated to be “paramount to the success of these projects”.


The gameplan

Looking ahead to the rest of 2024, their vision is “clear and ambitious”.

Their plan is to address five blighted properties to prepare them for rebuilding and getting back onto the tax rolls.

She stated that they will continue to stabilize the Broadway Theater.

She said they will also bring construction to vacant properties to bring more housing to the community.

“Furthermore, we will begin renovations on the Key Bank building and undertaking the Monticello Manor redevelopment.” stated McDowall.

“As you can see from our goals for 2024, the majority of our focus is on the Village of Monticello. Within the Village of Monticello Law, we have fifty million dollars in anticipated spending through various projects at different stages.”

Their current inventory was said to be extensive and extends multiple towns, including twenty-five properties in the Village of Liberty, twenty-one in the Village of Monticello, and several others in the Towns of Thompson, Neversink, Fallsburg and Bethel.

“This inventory represents our commitment and reach across the county,” remarked McDowall. “The effect of blight on our communities is profound. Property values decrease significantly impacting the entire neighborhood.”

Trustee Gordon Jenkins asked if projects, such as the Key Bank renovations, will be on the tax assessment roll.

McDowall responded that it depended on what is going into the building at the end. She stated that they don’t have a tenant currently lined up but it should be going back into the tax rolls at the end.

Jenkins stated that the issue he’s concerned about is that when these projects come in, they come on the tax roll and they’re not getting their full tax base that they’re supposed to be getting.

“Until twenty years from now, the Village goes under,” Jenkins exampled.

He referred to the Monticello Manor project that was said to be on the tax roll.

“So those are tax credit projects ... there are opportunities ... to have it move taxes or a payment or process,” responded McDowall, “I also want to look at the bigger picture that now you have renovated buildings, you have people and feet on Broadway.” 

“You have activity, you are going to spend and shop at your local businesses and are going to hopefully expand and grow and move from an apartment to a house.”


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