In my last piece I recounted coming home to Kerhonkson after a long absence and finding out that it looked like parts of a third world nation. A friend commented: I believe that the problem Kerhonkson has always had exists in its residents, collectively. If the majority were so inclined to productively change their community - it could be done. For a plethora of reasons it has not been done, and currently if anything is being done...it remains at a snail’s pace. Your blog on Kerhonkson was, unfortunately, correct to a very large degree.
Well, I’m sad that she agrees with me, since she has been there through it all. But since it seems to be the consensus that the place is close to dead, what can be done to resurrect it? Too many blogs and even traditional media use their space to list and lament problems in an area but never come up with solutions. Let’s dare to be different here.
It’s obvious that the area itself has many strengths—it offers beautiful scenery, is a very large village if you realize that Kerhonkson itself runs from roughly the Lake Minnewaska entrance on Rt 44-55 all the way to Palentown Poad and the former Peg Leg Bates Resort, now owned and operated by another group of people. That is a distance of 15 or 16 miles, plus it runs from Wawarsing to Accord, another 5 or so miles on Rt. 209. It’s a big area, and the mountains, especially the Shawangunk Mountain that Minnewaska is part of and the ridge along its top that runs to Ellenville, along which were the old shacks and huts that housed the denizens of the huckleberry industry of days of old, offer a great resource if rules and regulations can be moderated to accommodate some sort of industry or business up there. Years ago Marriott wanted to put a hotel at Lake Minnewaska. That idea was voted/shouted down. So why not move the site of a nice big hotel to the very top of the mountain, among the scrub pines and granite, keeping it as environmentally friendly as possible, accessible from Rock Haven Road near 44-55? The place could be called Mountain Top Hotel, and if landscaped properly and new, "green" methods of waste disposal were handled in an intelligent way, it could be a huge boon to the area, offering jobs and bringing sorely needed money into the local economy. And who knows what it might lead to?
Local farm stands are another example. The most beautiful and prosperous of these is definitely Saunderskill Farms in Accord, but others are doing well and there is room for more, especially in the Kerhonkson area. Burd Farms on 209 has a nice little stand but it could be bigger and offer more produce and baked goods. Other small, roadside shops and markets of specialty items like maple syrup, arts and crafts (local, not mass produced crap)and more. Look at Woodstock for an example, with a few constraints. Woodstock is Woodstock. Kerhonkson is Kerhonkson. There's a great creek that runs through town. Make use of it! Put a nice restaurant over looking the water somewhere. Clear the crappy looking old trees and woods and open it up. People will come, industry or no industry.
Another suggestion is to play up the fresh water that the area produces. I recently brought back a few bottles of out of the ground pure goodness from Upper Cherrytown Road. Someone shold bottle this stuff for the tourist trade. Doesn't have to be a huge production, but water that pure can get top dollar as a specialty item for tourists. Nice bottle, fancy label, sell it in town, and a lot of cash will flow like that water. People come to the Catskills for the scenery. Let's give them a show. (Of course we don’t tell the tourists exactly where the water comes from---can’t let that cat out of the bag, cuz it needs to be left alone for the locals who already drink it).
C’mon, people. A few of you read this blog, and more read my facebook page. Gimme more ideas so I can submit them to the proper authorities. There is no need for all of this to get bogged down in beaureaucratic red tape, as I’m sure it will, per the usual way of things getting not done in Kerhonkson, but for the town’s sake, let’s try.