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Learn about land banks and transforming distressed properties

February 29, 2016

 [BETHEL] – Speakers from Newburgh and Hancock will discuss how they made their communities shine at the Sullivan Renaissance Annual Conference on Saturday, March 5 at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, N.Y.  Doors will open at 9:00 a.m.

Alexandra Church, City of Newburgh Planner and Madeline Fletcher from the Newburgh Community Land Bank will discuss the City of Newburgh’s multi-faceted approach to addressing vacant and distressed properties, including the creation of a Distressed Property Task Force, improving code enforcement, streamlining project review and establishing a land bank to return vacant and abandoned properties to the tax rolls. 

Jerry DaBrescia, of Hancock Partners Inc., will share how they purchased a vacant supermarket site in the heart of the downtown and over a 10-year period transformed it into a park.  The new town square contains trees, walking paths, lighting, a pavilion, bandstand, and an archway which proclaims “Town Square Hancock New York – Gateway to the Upper Delaware.”

The Local Market and Expo will offer exciting opportunities for attendees to improve their community and individual health.  Screenings and information will be offered by Catskill Regional Medical Center who will also present their Eat Healthy, Move More, Be Well campaign while Cornell Cooperative Extension of Sullivan County will profile their Creating Healthy Schools and Community program.  Sullivan County Public Health will be focusing on nutrition and injury prevention.  The Sullivan County Division of Planning will showcase and ideas on keeping fit in the outdoors. 

Gardening inspiration will be on hand from Monticello Farm, Home and Garden, Story’s Neversink Plant Company and Liberty Agway Farm Home and Garden.  Local products from Heirloom Botanicals, Java Love Coffee Roasting Company, Northern Farmhouse Pasta, Root N Roost Farm and Thanksgiving Farm at the Center for Discovery will be available for purchase.

Learn how to transform a bland landscape into a WOW garden in the afternoon session Curb Appeal for Homes and Businesses.  An Outreach Salon will also be open for visitors to discuss volunteer opportunities and Renaissance en Español.

The public is invited and admission is free.  Simultaneous translation into Spanish will be available and the facility is ADA compliant.  The morning program, consisting of the Municipal Grant Awards, Keynote Address and Renaissance Awards will be webcast live and can be viewed at Valet parking will be available.

For details about the conference, call the Sullivan Renaissance office at 845-295-2445.  Go to  to download a conference brochure or to register online.

Sullivan Renaissance is a beautification and community development program principally funded by the Gerry Foundation.