Open Space Preservation
May 15, 2006
Dear County Legislator,
Dutchess County has made substantial progress in recent years toward implementing the Greenway Compact. This includes making strides toward preserving open space in the County.
I have always believed we are most successful with these policies and strategies when we pursue them as a partnership between the County and local communities. An essential strategy for localities to be effective partners is to adopt local open space and farmland preservation plans and funding programs. In my 2006 State of the County address I “…challenge [d] our towns, villages and cities to join the County in saving the land that should be saved….” I said, “I won’t be satisfied until permanent open space implementation is an adopted policy of every local government agenda….”
I renew my challenge to local communities to make open space preservation with dedicated funding a top priority, thus enabling your community to come to the County when worthy opportunities are present. The need to preserve critical open spaces has never been greater, so I feel that our Partnership for Manageable Growth must be part of our legacy to future generations.
To date, Red Hook and Beekman have passed bond resolutions for open space protection. Wappinger, Rhinebeck, Union Vale and Dover have made specific appropriations for individual properties, in cooperation with Dutchess County. Pawling made a substantial purchase of the former YMCA property. I applaud these, but this is only a beginning.
I am forwarding a recent article highlighting the efforts of the Town of Warwick in Orange County. This community of 32,000 along the Rt. 17 corridor demonstrates the type of local commitment I believe is important in Dutchess County if we are to successfully save our open spaces. Warwick began its program in 2000 and has committed millions of local tax dollars to carry out its vision of open space. Warwick’s effort will help sustain a high quality of life in the town forever.
I am asking you as a County Legislator to join me in the challenge I made in my State of the County address. My hope is you will go to localities in your district and become an advocate for adoption of local open space and farmland preservation funding.
While ad hoc funding commitments are certainly important, our localities still have the opportunity to set a long term vision, similar to Warwick, Red Hook, and Beekman. A formal and extensive commitment of local resources is a prerequisite to implementing our vision of maintaining the County’s rural qualities. I am hopeful you will carry the message of the county’s partnership for manageable growth program and help convince the towns, villages and cities you represent to join us in our work to protect open space.
The County program I first authored in 1999 has already earmarked $7 million for preservation of important lands. In all cases we have achieved success with our policy of leveraged funding relationships from multiple funding partners. However, the success of the county partnership program really depends upon bottom-up initiative in order to be fully successful.
Please advise me of the progress you make with the localities in your district. My staff and I stand ready to assist you as you proceed.
William R. Steinhaus
Dutchess County Executive
Enclosure: Warwick article
c. All County Legislators
Roger Akeley, Commissioner of Planning and Development
City and Village Mayors
Local Town and Village Board Members
Local Planning Board Members
Local Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) Members
Dutchess County Planning Board Members
Harry Baldwin, Chair, Farmland Protection Board
Rebecca Thornton, Executive Director, Dutchess Land Conservancy