Poughkeepsie…“We have looked forward to this moment,” said County Executive William Steinhaus as he handed checks totaling $285,000 to Town and Village officials of Rhinebeck and Winnakee Land Trust during the final legal transaction of the County’s participation in the Thompson Park open space preservation project. The County money is funded through the initiative Steinhaus authored in 2000 called the Dutchess County Partnership for Manageable Growth. This allotment combines with resources from the Thomas Thompson Trust, the Village and Town of Rhinebeck and the Dyson Foundation to provide the full range of funding.
“The County contribution shows a unity of purpose between local and county goals,” Steinhaus said. “This is a definite rejection of sprawl and continues our effort to be ‘sprawl busters’. This project exemplifies our intent at the county level to assist in the protection of lands residents consider most important.” Rhinebeck and County action assures the Village will have a clearly defined rural border along its southwestern edge. Steinhaus added, “Today’s closing and transfer of the $285,000 of county money to Rhinebeck is an important step in fulfilling our vision.”
Purchase of the 72 acre farm in 2005 established public ownership of the former Rhineson property. The Winnakee Land Trust now holds a non-development easement on the property, assuring its long term preservation. The easement does allow, however, for a one acre building envelope to be available for future construction of a Village/Town community center.
Local participation is essential for success because the County designed its participation as being the last money in to attract other funds. “This philosophy is designed to assure local support,” said Roger Akeley, Commissioner of Planning and Development. “It’s an extension of the bottom-up approach imbedded in the Greenway program.”
Steinhaus concluded, “I’m convinced that as local communities follow the county’s lead and become more and more committed to the preservation of land within their borders, the county’s matching grant program will continue to act as a strong incentive to encourage many more open space preservation efforts.”
Since establishment of the Matching Grant Program, the County has completed 12 open space projects, with additional projects moving toward closing. Completed projects preserve 1,217 acres of farmland and 413 acres of open space valued at nearly $10.7 million. Pending projects could raise the County’s total commitment of funds to $5.75 million and could increase the preservation of farmland to 1,848 acres and open space to 454 acres. The County Executive has committed $7 million to the program to date, with the goal of protecting at least 10,000 acres of resources over this decade.