Poughkeepsie…Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus said today “the Democrat leadership of the Dutchess County Legislature killed seven Open Space and Farmland Preservation projects when they refused to discuss it at their Legislative meeting on Wednesday, June 18th.”
The Legislature Democrats denied the administration’s request to get the preservation projects on yesterday’s Legislative Agenda, which was necessary in order to ensure final approval at the upcoming July meeting in three weeks. Steinhaus had publicly announced the seven Smart Growth “Dutchess Goes Green” Open Space and Farmland Preservation projects earlier this week.
The County Executive said, “The Democrat leaders of the Legislature refusal to allow the seven open space projects on the agenda as we requested is just one more example of hyper partisan political obstructionism we have seen from the Majority.”
Steinhaus said, “Dutchess Democrats torpedoing these seven spectacular properties from being approved by the Legislature proves Democrats talk of smart growth and stopping sprawl is worthless lip service; Democrat talk of saving open space is worthless; talk of saving farms is worthless; and their talk of protecting the environment is just worthless rhetoric.”
The Exec noted, "We have heard a loud message from local residents to stop sprawl and preserve our precious remaining open space and farms but sadly the Legislature Democrats are ignoring that very clear message from residents.”
“We have landowners, and local and state funding partners who are all committed to preserving these beautiful 1,000 acres. We have secured commitments of over $8 million dollars to match the $1.6 million county bond. In order to move forward, the bond needs legislative adoption but Legislative Democrats could obviously care less about all of these factors or about saving these seven properties.”
The failure of Democrats to support the funds for the county share of these projects leaves funding gaps and jeopardizes seven projects that have had years of work invested in them.
“It is especially disturbing that Legislator Mansfield has abandoned support for the additional 100 acres to be saved in the Red Hook “bread basket” where the county partnership matching local Red Hook money has been such a tremendous success and where Red Hook residents have been so committed to saving local farms,” said Steinhaus.
The Executive added, “Also shocking is the lack of support to save open space by Democrat Legislator Keller-Coffey, the chair of the legislative Capital Projects committee. His committee refused to allow the county approval to proceed. Locust Grove is located right in his district in the Town of Poughkeepsie! This project has the full support of the Democrat Town Supervisor and would save 29 acres of open space in the most densely developed area of the entire county right on Rt. 9.”
The Executive also said, “it is disappointing that another Democrat Legislator, Allison MacAvery has not stood up to challenge Democrat leaders of the legislature who have torpedoed the county open space funding and has not offered her vocal support for the 103 acre Hiddenbrooke project in Beacon, since the city Mayor and council is Democrat and her constituents, the Beacon voters, by referendum have approved a $1,100,000 Beacon share to leverage and match what would have been a $500,000 county contribution.”
Also planned was a county contribution for the Bos Haven farm that straddles the towns of Washington and Union Vale in the district of Democrat legislator Margaret Fettes, who is a member of the Democrat caucus leadership who made the decision not to allow the bond on the agenda. Steinhaus noted, “Although the two local towns have pledged local money totaling $235,000 along with the $1.2 million of state funds the county secured, apparently Legislator Fettes now wants to abandon the county commitment to its share of $635,000.”
The seven open space projects include:
|Open Space Project:
||Town of Washington & Town of Union Vale|
||Town of North East |
||Town of Red Hook |
||Town of Red Hook|
||Town of Poughkeepsie |
||City of Beacon |
||Town of Beekman |
The Dutchess County Partnership for Manageable Growth Open Space and Farmland Matching Grant Program was 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 and is a key component to his comprehensive “Dutchess Goes Green” agenda.
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. The additional seven project would mean Dutchess County will have protected nearly 3,000 acres costing more than $22 million dollars. The County will have contributed 29% of the cost with a total investment of $6.5 million.
“I am hopeful the community can convince the Legislature Democrats to reverse their opposition to these seven projects. We want to ensure these properties are forever saved from development. Our community faces a great loss when projects like these are not allowed to happen,” concluded County Executive Steinhaus.