Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus announced today he has taken steps to move forward with the acquisition of conservation easements on three Dutchess farms as part of the Dutchess County Partnership for Manageable Growth Open Space and Farmland Matching Grant Program. More than 400 acres of vital agricultural resources will be protected with the purchase of development rights on McIntosh Farm in the Town of Beekman and Mead Orchards and Wil-Hi Farm in the Town of Red Hook.
“Ten years ago I created a collaborative program that brought local and state funding partners, together with landowners to be united in the common goal of preserving Dutchess County’s scenic beauty and rural character,” said County Executive Steinhaus. “That partnership has led to nearly 2,000 acres of protected farmland and open space. We are pleased to be moving forward and adding 400 more treasured acres.”
Dutchess County has partnered with the local municipalities, local land trusts as well as New York State in the acquisition of the development rights of these properties. County Executive Steinhaus designed the Dutchess County Partnership for Manageable Growth/Open Space and Farmland Protection Matching Grant Program to be the last money in to attract and leverage other funds, therefore assuring local support. “Once again, our successful partnership formula will deliver great results with the preservation of these 3 farms,” said Steinhaus.
Owners Beth, Charles, and Linda Mead will sell the development rights to 82 acres of farmland located in the Town of Red Hook. Dutchess County has earned a $427,819 Farmland Protection Implementation Grant from the New York State Department of Agriculture toward the Mead Orchards acquisition. The Town of Red Hook will contribute $57,335 from its Open Space Protection Program. The remainder of the funding, $72,771, will come from the County.
Wil Hi Farm
The Wil Hi Farm is a 15.5 acre property located adjacent to the Mead Orchards property on Schism Road and Route 9 in the Town of Red Hook. Owned by Charles and Heidi Simmons, the farm features five pastures, an early farmhouse, a pond and barn and is home to flocks of Suffolk and Rambouillet sheep, considered among the best on the east coast. The Town of Red Hook and the County’s Matching Grant Program will each contribute $65,750 to the acquisition of a conservation easement to protect the property, with additional support from the Winnakee Land Trust.
The conservation easements on Mead Orchards and Wil-Hi Farm will secure, as permanently green, more than one-half mile of frontage on Route 9 at the northern gateway to Dutchess County and will permanently protect an agricultural vista of pasture and orchards for residents and visitors.
“As the first town in Dutchess County to commit funding for protection of farmland and open space, we are so pleased to continue our successful partnership with the County in the acquisition of these two farmland gems,” said Town of Red Hook Supervisor Sue Crane. “Both Mead Orchards and Wil-Hi Farm are family businesses that represent the heart of our farm industry and help define the working landscape that gives us our unique rural character.”
McIntosh Farm is a 302-acre former dairy farm owned by Dr. Thomas Sanford located in the Town of Beekman. The farm produced 38,000 bales of hay in 2008 to support local horse farms, a key segment of Dutchess County’s agricultural industry. The Town of Beekman has committed $2 million toward the acquisition and the Dutchess County Planning Board has recommended that the County provide a matching grant of $529,000 toward the acquisition. Additional funding includes $12,500 in in-kind services from Dutchess Land Conservancy and a bargain sale of approximately $175,000 from the landowner – (bargain sales is when the landowner agrees to sell development rights for less the totaled appraised value.)
“We created our open space plan in accordance with the Town’s 1999 adopted Comprehensive Plan in order to protect the rural aspect of our community which has drawn so many residents and businesses to Beekman,” said Town of Beekman Supervisor John Adams. “Thanks to our partnership with the County, Dutchess Land Conservancy and Dr. Sanford, we are assured more then 300 beautiful acres will remain forever green.”
Dutchess County Legislator Gerald Hutchings, who represents the Town of Beekman, said about preserving McIntosh Farm, “This was the stated objective of the town’s 1999 Comprehensive Plan and is a wonderful result of its implementation begun in 2001.” Legislator Hutchings continued, “This set-aside of 300+ acres not only provides for the fields to continue as a natural habitat, it will also slow development, will not add to the need for additional school facilities and protects the aquifer – all goals established by the Comprehensive Plan based on public input.”
The completion of these three important acquisitions will bring the total amount of farmland protected by Dutchess County Partnership for Manageable Growth/Open Space and Farmland Protection Matching Grant Program to nearly 2,000 acres. When all pending projects are completed, the County will have protected 2,975 acres valued at nearly $23 million, more than triple the County’s investment of $6.6 million.
“We commend the Towns of Red Hook and Beekman, as well our other local partners and New York State for committing to the shared goal of protecting our County’s open space assets and ensuring those acres remain ‘forever green’ for future generations to enjoy,” concluded County Executive Steinhaus.