With an initial grant from the Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC), the Catskill Water Discovery Center (CWDC)was incorporated in 2001 as the Catskill Watershed Partnership Museum, a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organization, changing its name in ensuing years to widen its scope. Its mission is: “…to educate people of all ages about the precious nature of, and threats to, our planet’s most vital resource – pure water. We will use the Catskill/Delaware Watershed as our living classroom and the history and experience of those connected to this watershed to inspire people through programs, exhibits, and events to care for, conserve and protect their water resources for the benefit of generations to come.”
Plans for an interpretive museum were put forward and revised at intervals over the years, stalling for uncontrollable reasons, but culminating now in a 750sf exhibit space in the headquarters building of the CWC, with offices of the NYCDEP, scheduled to open in the spring of 2020. Planning for this exhibit hall, which has its own entrance, program office and access to a 140-seat auditorium, as well as an interpretive nature preserve on an adjacent 33-acre site on the banks of the East Branch of the Delaware River, is currently underway.
AN EVOLVING ROLE IN THE REGION
With regional relationships built through continued community engagement of members of the Board of Trustees, the CWDC was positioned in 2014 to serve as lead agency for a study of recreational access to the East Branch of the Delaware. This study was a result of a recommendation by the Stream Corridor Management Program, a cooperative program of Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and Delaware County Planning Department, that called for the watershed partners and communities to “enhance recreation activities” within the watershed.
The outcome of the study is a plan that calls for the creation of recreation hubs in the Delaware County villages and hamlets of Andes, Arkville, Fleischmanns, Margaretville, and Roxbury. All are within the Catskill Watershed. The plan, “East Branch Delaware River Enhanced Recreational Access Plan” has been described as a model in planning for recreational purposes in the protected NYC Watershed. Arkville is the first to be in line for funding from Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District for trails and interpretive signage in the Water Discovery Center’s nature preserve. Funding from NYCDEP has already been made to the NY/NJ Trail Conference for design of those trails. Construction by NY/NJ Trail Conference will follow.
THE ARKVILLE RECREATIONAL HUB
The Catskill Water Discovery Center Exhibit Hall and shared auditorium for public programs including school groups, opening in the new Catskill Watershed Corporation Headquarters (and NYCDEP offices) in spring 2020,
CWDC’s 33-acre nature preserve, adjacent to the CWC/DEP/CWDC building grounds, with future trails and interpretive signage currently in the design phase, to be developed by the NY/NJ Trail Conference,
The Catskill Recreation Center with an indoor pool, fitness center and wellness programs, boat steam cleaning operation (required for boating in the reservoirs) and proposed walking and running trail,
The DURR, which runs a scenic rail ride from Arkville to Roxbury is planning a station stop and RR crossing enabling access from the preserve to the CWDC Exhibit Hall,
Morris Hill, across Rt. 38 from the CWDC entrance, is a 206-acre parcel owned by NYDEP and slated for trails to be developed by the Catskill Mountain Club.