Sullivan Land Bank Ramps Up Operations   

(Monticello, NY) - It has only been in existence for a few months, but the Sullivan County Land Bank Corporation is ramping up its operations thanks in part to a recently announced $920,000 state grant through the Land Bank Community Revitalization Initiative (CRI).

New York State’s Land Bank Program was established by state law in 2011, with a limited the number of land banks permitted to be created. In November of last year, Empire State Development approved the creation of the Sullivan County Land Bank Corporation (SCLBC), making it the 19th out of 20 land banks allowed in New York State.

“Land Banks are not actually financial institutions,” explained Sullivan County Planning Commissioner and SCLBC Chair Freda Eisenberg. “They are non-profit organizations created to acquire and repurpose vacant, abandoned, and foreclosed properties in distressed neighborhoods.”

Land bank programs act as an economic and community development tool to revitalize distressed neighborhoods and business districts. They are often created to work with a system of tax foreclosure and property disposition as an alternative to the traditional strategy of auctioning off foreclosed properties to the highest bidder. In Sullivan County’s case, the Land Bank is working closely with Sullivan County Treasurer Nancy Buck and Village officials in the target areas of Monticello and Liberty to identify a few select properties that may be removed from the auction process upon the approval of the County Legislature. If transferred to the Land Bank, these properties would be improved so they are no longer a blight on their surrounding neighborhoods, then restored to private ownership  in a manner consistent with the communities’ values and needs.

The SCLBC is currently seeking an Executive Director to manage and guide the organization during this critical start-up period. The position is expected to require a full-time commitment, and a qualified candidate should have a bachelor’s degree and 2-5 years of experience in general real estate, redevelopment and or land use, contracting/construction, project management or real estate law.

The recent grant award will help the land bank quickly ramp up its operations, including developing policies and procedures, creating a web site and marketing materials, and drafting a strategic plan.

“We are also looking for members of the community willing to help,” explained Jacquie Leventoff, who serves as Vice Chair of the land bank and represents the private sector. “We need individuals with experience in real estate law, construction, finance, or community development projects who are willing to serve on the board or in an advisory capacity.” 

For more information on how to apply for the Executive Director position, or to get involved, contact Freda Eisenberg at (845) 807-0527 or Freda.Eisenberg@co.sullivan.ny.us.

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