Sullivan County’s new planner says he has ‘come home’
MONTICELLO – Luiz Aragon was born in Europe, raised in Switzerland and Brazil, and spent the past 20 with New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation & Development, including serving as a deputy commissioner.
He will be Sullivan County’s new Planning Commissioner, if confirmed by the county legislature later this week. That would appear to be a formality. The Executive Committee, consisting of the entire legislature, voted unanimously in favor of his confirmation.
“Coming up here has been, for me, a process that has actually happened over the past ten years. I’ve had a second home in the upper Delaware River Valley.”
That home is in Shohola, just across the Delaware River in Pennsylvania. He will be required to establish a permanent residence in Sullivan County.
Aragon says the difference between working in one of the world’s most challenging cities, and in pastoral Sullivan County, are not as different as one might think.
“It is different; the subject matter is slightly different. But, the actual raw material is the same, which is the people.”
He says “the people” are the critical third link in what he defines as a ‘three-dimensional’ nature of the job: the knowledge of planning that rests with the people he will be working with; the overlying government structure; then, the people themselves.
If all things come together, Aragon says that will give him what he needs to keep all levels of government, county and municipal, in the loop.
“Often enough, the impact of a project is not, sometimes, thought through. I think that the planning division, in one of its biggest roles, is going to really think those things through and educate the different townships and share the information, so that the impact of progress, the impact of new projects, can be understood.”
If confirmed, Aragon will replace long-time planner Dr. William Pammer, who left to return to academia. He will earn $85,000.
The county received almost 30 resumes after advertising the position in June. Thirteen were interviewed, leaving a short list of three candidates. The final decision was made last week.
“I think he will bring some additional tools to planning”, said County Manager David Fanslau.
One of those tools, proclaims Aragon, is confidence in the future of Sullivan County.
“Now, I’m a firm believer that here in Sullivan County, you have the necessary raw material to really build a renaissance. I think that Sullivan County can be, and will be, the county of hope.”