Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sullivan County Hassidic Community--The Quiet Grumbling.

I hesitated to post this at first, because I didn't want it to come off in any way as "racist" or anti-Semitic. However,  I thought about it, and being a local, and having my ear to proverbial ground, I think it is a matter worth discussing. And now, after reading the post in the Catskill Chronicle. Click Here  it got me angry enough to say the hell with it.

Hassidic bungalow colonies have dotted the SC landscape since I was young. They "summer" here, generally arriving around Memorial Day, and leaving after Labor Day. Many do the weekend Fri. to Mon. thing as well.

I don't know the exact numbers, but estimates have put it at round 100,000. Bay Ridge, and Crown Heights empty out, and certain areas of Sullivan County fill up. They are close knit, keep to themselves, communities. They have their own bakeries, and shops. WalMart seems to be the only "local" place they do business.

Taxes have always been a reason for some of the grumbling, and it is true that certain Hassidic properties are off the tax rolls, because of religious exemptions, and generally the properties that are on the tax rolls are assessed lower, because of their inherit lack in value, however there is some tax money paid on these properties.

The problem I and many others have with these communities, is simply the lack of upkeep of any sort. Run down does not begin to describe the state. Sagging bungalows on piers, piles of debris, ugly chain link fences. They are an eyesore, plain and simple, and they bring down property values around them. No second home owner wants to own in those areas. For the rest of the population, those areas are avoided.

But the real problem I have, is the double standard afforded to them. This county, and its local townships have building codes, that are simply not adhered to in these communities, and I am not sure why. Perhaps it is money. There are a lot of them, and they may have attorneys working on their behalf.

And now, if you read the Catskill Chronicle article...a five thousand dollar grant from the Sullivan Renaissance? Really? They gave them five grand to fix that corner building?---As well as other colonies getting money to fix things. To me it is a travesty. What we need is code enforcement. They need to be held to the same standard of living as the rest of us.

Just a side note on the Sullivan Renaissance. (Which is privately funded, so they can do whatever they want.) They also gave The Dancing Cat Distillery and Saloon in Bethel 20K for that project. Now I think that is gong to be a pretty cool spot, and it will help the area overall.

However, I am attempting to open my own Re/Max office in Bethel. Now I know that a real estate office is not that sexy, and many won't find it especially helpful in the growth of the community, but I never even attempted a grant, I went for a loan, and was denied promptly and with little explanation. However I guess if you keep your buildings crappy enough, you get free money.  Ahh but I digress.

I suppose some credit should be given at the attempt, but giving money, and a "Hands-on workshops on spring and summer gardening basics in May and July, and a workshop on improving storefronts in June"--It almost seems condescending. We are all grown ups here. How about fines for code violations? How about getting our local leaders togetherer on a united front, and like I said before, simply hold them to the same standard the rest of us are held to.


  1. Interesting article.......but I couldn't help thinking back on my last visit to Sullivan County. I had not been back for many years and so I had forgotten just how many dwellings in the area were eye sores. It seems to me, these dilapidated... run down properties, which do bring down the real estate value, are strewn equally across the county. Of course, the biggest eye sore that stood out to me was the old burned out hotel located in Callicoon near the Western hotel. If you want to talk about building code violations and code enforcement I think you should start here. Not to mention what that burned out building, which has been left there since the 1970's, has done to property values in Callicoon. Just my thoughts.…….

  2. A-freakin-men, sir! But you really went easy, mature, controlled. Excellent points, and I'm glad you wrote and posted it. Moving out of White Lake was the best decision we ever made, and having to go anywhere near there or to Walmart between Memorial and Labor day makes me want to slit my wrists or just open fire...

  3. Sunday, I agree that there are other eye sore properties that are non Hassidic, but I think the sheer numbers, and the fact that all seem to be content in the "dilapitation" makes them stand out. As for the Olympia, I have been a pretty voc...al proponent for years on getting that property fixed. Last year it was bought and work began, but it has fizzled. I had a blog post on it last year. http://jduceyrealestate.blogspot.com/2009/05/olympia-hotel-renovation.html

    P.S. the Democrat article on the Olympia was written by an amazing journalist..whatever happened to her?

    Anyway, thanks all for the comments.

  4. Yeah, judging by the picture, I'm not thinking that building in White Lake looks any too improved, especially when compared to the clock tower, Jeff Bank building, I could be wrong but . . . .