Poughkeepsie… “On Monday the Dutchess County Legislature will have the opportunity to move forward on our Comprehensive Parks Upgrade Plan that will enhance the quality of life for residents today and for generations to come with improvements to Dutchess County Parks,” said Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus. “However, the Legislature must move quickly on this entire plan before cost escalations push these projects out of reach, which would be a great loss to our residents.”
The $9.9 million dollar Comprehensive Parks Upgrade Plan includes three main components:
- Completing Dutchess Rail Trail with link to the Walkway Over the Hudson pedestrian bridge with the acquisition and development of abandoned CSX railroad property. This extension to the Dutchess Rail Trail will create a spectacular continuous link extending from East Fishkill to New Paltz. Project completion is timed for October 2009 to coincide with the planned opening of the Walkway Over the Hudson and the 2009 Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Celebration. Total cost for the “DRT Extension” project including property acquisition, easements, design and construction is estimated to be $4.42 million.
The Dutchess Rail Trail is 12 mile linear county park currently being developed through the City & Town of Poughkeepsie, LaGrange, Wappinger and East Fishkill along the former Maybrook Rail corridor. County Executive Steinhaus initiated and has championed the Dutchess Rail Trail project from its initial planning stages and has secured federal funding to cover 80% of the project cost, saving County taxpayers millions of dollars.
Each stage of the Dutchess Rail Trail project requires review and approval from both the Department of Environmental Conservation (DOT) and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYS DOT). The Dutchess County Department of Engineering recently obtained approval for the next stage of construction from the DEC and County Executive Steinhaus is pushing the NYS DOT for its final approval so construction can begin on the trail’s next stage from Morgan Lake to Overrocker Road.
According to Gregory Bentley, Director of Engineering, who has a long standing relationship with NYS DOT, “The Dutchess Rail Trail project has been advanced years faster than a typical federally funded, locally administered transportation project, especially one of this complexity and magnitude.”
- Implementation of the Master Plan for Quiet Cove Riverfront Park. The master plan features shoreline improvements and the development of three access points to the river. Two existing beach areas will be improved for canoe and kayak launching and a promenade with a boat dock will be constructed. The master plan also includes upgrades to existing buildings on the site including renovating the two-story, wooden structure, which has been declared eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, for community uses. Another building will be renovated into public bathrooms with an observation deck. Other planned improvements to Quiet Cove include the development of a small amphitheatre on the river and landscape improvements to capitalize on the park’s natural scenic beauty, along with additional parking and other utility infrastructure improvements. The total estimated cost for the Quiet Cove Riverfront Park Master Plan is $4.5 million.
- Facility improvements at Bowdoin Park in the Town of Poughkeepsie and Wilcox Park in the Town of Milan. As a result of County Executive Steinhaus’ park investment initiatives, Dutchess County Parks have been recognized as quality recreation venues and have become popular destinations for residents. Bowdoin Park has been honored as “Best Park in the Hudson Valley” two years in a row. Event bookings at both Bowdoin and Wilcox Parks’ facilities are on the rise as more and more residents discover these great assets causing many existing park facilities to be at capacity. The Comprehensive Parks Upgrade Plan will continue to improve the park facilities and they continue to meet and exceed residents’ expectations. Several facilities will undergo roof replacements, window replacements and renovations to ensure the buildings are energy efficient and well maintained to serve the long term needs of county residents. Playground upgrades are also planned at Bowdoin Park including new playground equipment with safety surfacing and an additional water feature to join the trio of water spray turtles, one of the most popular features in the park. Currently, several pieces of playground equipment have been removed for safety reasons. On weekends, the remaining equipment is not sufficient to handle the volume of children visiting the park. Total cost for the capital improvements at Bowdoin and Wilcox Parks are estimated to be just under $960,000.
The County Executive is urging final approval of the Comprehensive Parks Upgrade Plan at the Legislature’s July 14th meeting. Any delay will add significantly to the taxpayers cost of the projects due to cost escalations including the price of asphalt concrete, which has jumped 20% since May and overall construction costs which have risen 12% to 18% annually.
“Our residents have been vocal in their support of our County Park System and they demonstrate that support by utilizing all our parks everyday. Just this week, we hosted 600 senior citizens at Bowdoin Park for the annual Town of Poughkeepsie senior picnic and we are seeing a full parking lot on weekends at Quiet Cove Riverfront Park. Now as more and more people look to keep closer to home and enjoy “staycations” to save gasoline, it is more important than ever we provide park facilities they can look forward to visiting with family and friends,” concluded County Executive Steinhaus.