Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Partnership for Manageable Growth Open Space and Farmland Matching Grant Program, the first county agricultural and recreational open space and farmland preservation program of its kind in New York State, authored by County Executive Steinhaus in 1999, will add an additional 7 properties across Dutchess County to be forever preserved as open space. Steinhaus’ sprawl busting initiative is a key component to his comprehensive “Dutchess Goes Green” agenda and will save over 1,000 acres never to be developed in Dutchess County.
County Executive Steinhaus said, “Nine years ago, when I launched this strategy to stop sprawl, I envisioned an Open Space and Farmland Protection Program based on partnership and collaboration. Today, that vision is a reality thanks to the commitment of County government, our local and state funding partners, and landowners who are committed to preserving our County’s scenic beauty and rural character.”
The County Executive has forwarded a $1.6 million bond to the Dutchess County Legislature to continue to fund the Dutchess County Partnership for Manageable Growth Open Space and Farmland Matching Grant Program. The funding will ensure seven pending projects will be completed in the Towns of Red Hook, Beekman, North East, Poughkeepsie and Union Vale/Washington as well as the City of Beacon.
Since the inception of the successful Dutchess County Partnership for Manageable Growth Open Space and Farmland Protection Matching Grant Program, the County has completed twelve open space and farmland acquisitions. County Executive Steinhaus’ initiatives have protected 1,580 acres of protective farmland and 382 acres of public open space with a total value of $12.3 million, all acquired with a net cost to county government of only $4.17 million.
All of the County’s acquisitions have been accomplished in collaboration with other funding partners. The total cost to complete the pending acquisitions is just over $10.6 million. Dutchess County will contribute $2.45 million (using current program balance of $880,000 plus the $1.6 million bond) in order to leverage an additional $8.15 million from other sources including New York State, municipalities and land conservancies.
Rebecca Thornton, Executive Director of Dutchess Land Conservancy said, “The County’s program is paving the way for successful projects. By leveraging funds from other sources, it not only becomes a true partnership, but dollars well spent. We are extremely grateful for this program which has helped ensure so many farms and critical public spaces are here for our future. What a wonderful legacy for Dutchess County residents.”
Participation from local communities has been essential to the success of the program. “We have designed the County’s participation to be the “last money in” to attract funds from other sources. I applaud our local communities who have answered our challenge to be committed to the preservation of land within their borders. We are thrilled to work with them as well as our other funding partners, so together we can continue to promote environmental conservation through the preservation of open space,” said County Executive Steinhaus.
Town of Red Hook Supervisor Sue Crane said, “Matching funds from Dutchess County has made possible the protection of 660 acres of five critical town parcels… We are enormously indebted to Dutchess County government for its vision and leadership.”
Upon approval and completion of the seven pending acquisitions, the Dutchess County Partnership for Manageable Growth Open Space and Farmland Protection Matching Grant Program will have protected nearly 3,000 acres costing more $22 million dollars. The County will have contributed 29% of the cost with a total investment of $6.5 million.
The bond request has been submitted for approval at the Legislature’s July board meeting. Due to New York State grant program requirements, should quick legislative approval not occur for the county funding share, State grants totaling nearly $3 million for pending projects will be jeopardized, as well as Dutchess County Government’s ability to successfully continue to leverage County dollars with state and local partners.