News Release



For More Information:

William R. Steinhaus
Dutchess County Executive
(845) 486-2000

For Immediate Release

May 13, 1999


County Executive Celebrates $1.5 Million Parks upgrade

Poughkeepsie, NY - County Executive William R. Steinhaus was joined by Legislators Barbara Gutzler and Roger Higgins to co-host a tour Thursday, May 13th at 2:30 P.M. at Bowdoin Park in the Town of Poughkeepsie to celebrate the renovation, reconstruction and expansion of the Dutchess County Park system. "Today's celebration is designed to focus the public's attention on Dutchess County's wonderful parks system and to reinforce the commitment of the Executive and the Legislature in making further improvements needed to take the system into the 21 st century. I share the concern of many that our parks system has needed additional attention over the years. In response and with the support of the Legislature, we completed an assessment of what needs to be accomplished to bring our facilities up to par and we have taken the steps needed to make it happen." Steinhaus said.

The Legislature formed a committee chaired by Legislator Suzanne Hom and a sub-committee chaired by Barbara Gutzler to develop parks policy. The Legislature adopted the parks policy created by Gutzler in 1998 and approved a $1.267 million bond to fund the Parks Capital Rehabilitation and Stabilization Program. In addition to the bond, $240,000 was appropriated for the demolition of unsafe structures and painting of numerous facilities system wide.

Steinhaus said: "We want to ensure that our residents, families, and visitors have top quality parks in which to play ball, hike, swim or merely relax. In addition, the parks facilities will now make it possible for more community groups and organizations to host retreats and other events at minimum cost."

Four facilities were included in Thursday's tour of Bowdoin Park: The Ellessdie Chapel, a new Pavilion, Marsh Boardwalk and Maple Knoll Lodge and Cabins, the completion of which together with the associated road upgrades and other site improvements, expand the portion of Bowdoin Park that will be available to the public by a full one third."

The county was successful in obtaining several grants to help pay for the improvements. For example, the relocation and renovation of the Ellessdie Chapel was funded primarily by the FAA as part of an obstruction removal project at the county airport. The materials used in reconstruction of the Maple Knoll Boardwalk were funded by a grant from the Hudson River Improvement Fund. Special thanks to local plumber Mike Schnorr who donated and installed the fixtures in the Chapel, and Karol Knapp, a local wetland biologist, who recommended appropriate plantings and other improvements to the man-made wetland.

Through a combination of county staff working with design professionals and contractors, cost effective repairs, renovations and new construction have been accomplished making these facilities usable by this summer. To date, the County has completed the scope of work designated by the Legislature as emergency repairs and safety improvement including new roofs on the Community Center and the Cultural and Natural History Centers at Bowdoin. The County has expended $703,142 from the $1.2M bond and $52,647 of the additional $240,000 appropriation. The remaining $751,211 will be utilized for structural repairs of several buildings primarily at Wilcox Park in northern Dutchess including stabilizing the historic Wilcox Mansion pending future analysis of its conditions and needed repairs.

The County Park System, which is comprised of Bowdoin and Wilcox Parks and the Harlem Valley Rail Trail is maintained and operated by a staff of only I I year round employees supplemented by seasonal workers. Total appropriations in 1999 are $701,514 with revenue projected at $84,936 producing a net operating cost to the county of $616,578.

Steinhaus referred to a letter he received from a local 8 year old boy who wrote of his concern over the loss of neighborhood woods near his home in the Town of Poughkeepsie. Steinhaus said, "This letter expressed the concern of all of us in Dutchess County and reinforced the commitment that we must make to maintaining and improving our Dutchess County Parks System. We are excited at the prospect of adding the MayBrook Rail Trail from Poughkeepsie to Hopewell Junction and the waterfront portion of the Hudson River Psychiatric Center to our parks system in the future," Steinhaus said.



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