Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus and Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Robert G. Rolison have announced two open space and farmland projects are moving toward finalization. County Executive Steinhaus has sent public hearing notices to the Dutchess County Legislature in final preparation for conservation easements to be acquired at Mead Orchards in the Town of Red Hook and Locust Grove in the Town of Poughkeepsie as part of the Dutchess County Partnership for Manageable Growth Open Space and Farmland Matching Grant Program. More than 110 acres will be protected at these two properties.
“More than a decade ago, I created a collaborative program that brought together local and state funding partners to be united in the common goal of preserving Dutchess County’s scenic beauty and rural character,” said County Executive Steinhaus. “With the support of the Dutchess County Legislature, that partnership has led to more than 2,280 acres of protected farmland and open space to date. Locust Grove and Mead Orchards will bring the total to nearly 2,400 acres.”
Dutchess County has partnered with the Town of Red Hook, the Town of Poughkeepsie, and New York State in the acquisition of conservation easements on these properties. The Dutchess County Partnership for Manageable Growth/Open Space and Farmland Protection Matching Grant Program is designed so that county money is the last money in to attract and leverage other funds, therefore assuring local support.
Legislature Chairman Robert Rolison said, “With these two projects, we can increase the quality of life for Dutchess County residents by protecting open space and farmland. We cannot and should not miss this opportunity to protect a public environmental, recreational and historical resource at Locust Grove as well as preserve the rural character and natural beauty at Mead Orchards.”
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 and Markets 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.
“By partnering with the Town of Red Hook to provide funding to protect Mead Orchards, Dutchess County has once again displayed its commitment to the preservation of vital farmland,” said Dutchess County Legislator Benjamin Traudt, who represents the Town of Red Hook. “This acquisition will forever protect agricultural land that represents the heart of Red Hook’s farm industry.”
Dutchess County is contributing $150,000 toward the purchase of two parcels of land adjoining Locust Grove, the 150 acre National Historic Landmark estate of Samuel F.B. Morse and wildlife sanctuary in the Town of Poughkeepsie. Locust Grove currently maintains a network of more than 3 miles of trails which are part of the Greenway Trail system. These additional open space parcels would allow for a mile of historic carriage roads to be added to the existing trail network, all of which is open to the public for recreation and brings the site’s total acreage to 180 acres. More than 30,000 people visit the Locust Grove site each year to visit the museum and historic buildings, picnic, walk on the hiking paths, jog on the carriage roads or just to simply enjoy the peace and quiet of the wildlife sanctuary.
Dutchess County Legislator Kenneth Roman, who represents the Town of Poughkeepsie, said, “Locust Grove offers the public a wealth of natural beauty and historical character for residents and visitors alike to enjoy. I am very pleased to support the preservation of this rare treasure, located right off Route 9, it acts as an oasis along this busy commerce corridor.”
The completion of these two important acquisitions will bring the total amount of farmland and open space protected by Dutchess County Partnership for Manageable Growth/Open Space and Farmland Protection Matching Grant Program to nearly 2,400 acres. Since the inception of the County’s program and upon completion of all pending projects, the County will have protected 2,975 acres valued at nearly $23 million, more than triple the County’s investment of $6.6 million.
“These projects bring economic benefits as well… supporting our vital agricultural industry and enhancing a tourism destination with more recreational areas open to the public,” said County Executive Steinhaus. “We commend the Towns of Red Hook and Poughkeepsie for sharing our vision of protecting our County’s open space assets and ensuring those acres remain ‘forever green’ for future generations to enjoy and benefit from.”
The Dutchess County Legislature will review five resolutions to move forward with the process of protecting the Locust Grove and Mead Orchards acreage, including a public hearing to be held on June 14th, 2010 in the Legislative Chambers about the county funding for the projects.
The Legislature will also be asked to approve an amendment extending the County’s contract with New York State to provide a Farmland Protection Implementation Grant to acquire a conservation easement on the 213-acre Sunset Ridge Farm in the Town of North East.