Visioning in Hancock
By Jerry DaBrescia
Just as the coming of the Erie Railroad opened our area in 1848, the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway, future Route 86 and the Internet are reopening it today. The question is: Opening it to what? I suspect the answer is To whatever we attract.
My particular vision for Hancock and the Upper Delaware, is to be the model of how to improve a rural economy without ravaging the land or its people. To create a place where our children can choose to remain and still earn a good living and where all of our residents can be proud of their community. These communities would then be a magnet and attract the additional money and people we need to prosper. The basis for all of this is predicated on our villages having a sound economic base.
That economic base for many of us ties into the highways that give us access to the Metropolitan New York area. The search engine Google tells us that the population of this metropolitan area is 21,199,865. These are our potential customers and new neighbors. For perspective:if we attract even one tenth of one percent of this population as new residents we would increase the population of Delaware County by 500 percent! We must clearly act as a matchmaker, not a doorkeeper.
This matchmaking involves a lot of if you build it, they will come. Build the right things, get the right result.
In Hancock this has started this summer with plans for a town square, the announcement of a new hotel to be built in the center of our village, a grant to rebuild our theater, pursuit of new and enlarged health services and the extension of Internet broadband connections by our local provider. None of these items change the world, but they do begin a trip down the right road.
Many of our people are reluctant to accept the restraints implied with planning or being a matchmaker, and their concern for stifling investment is sometimes justified. This concern, however, must be tempered with the knowledge that the wrong kind of investment or lack of vision can also stifle future prosperity.
From the Hawks Nest to Point Mountain, we are sitting atop a place of phenomenal beauty and potential. Each community must continue to invest in itself and then act as a matchmaker to welcome people and businesses who can best use and improve these investments.
[Jerry DaBrescia is the owner of DAB Insurance in Hancock, NY and acts as the president of Hancock Partners Inc., a 501C3 corporation seeking to develop the Hancock area.]