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New Community Development Coordinator to Support City’s Revitalization Efforts

Published: 1/8/2016

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Colleen Pillus

Poughkeepsie – City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro announced today Paul Hesse has been appointed to serve as Dutchess County’s new Community Development Coordinator for urban development efforts, in particular the City of Poughkeepsie’s revitalization efforts. Mr. Hesse will officially begin on Monday, January 11th, 2016 and will be based in City Hall.

As the Community Development Coordinator, Mr. Hesse will coordinate the City’s planning efforts, including providing support for the City’s planning and zoning boards, finalizing the update of the City’s zoning code, and implementing components of the County’s Waterfront Redevelopment Strategy, among other efforts.

“The City is extraordinarily grateful the County has agreed to provide this support to the City, and we are even more grateful the County was able to bring someone with Paul’s reputation and experience back to City Hall,” said Mayor Rolison.

County Executive Marc Molinaro stated, “Poughkeepsie is Dutchess County’s ‘front porch’, for so many, their first opportunity to experience Dutchess County. We know the prosperity of Dutchess County is directly linked to the City of Poughkeepsie’s prosperity. The County has invested a tremendous amount of time and resources into planning efforts such as the Waterfront Redevelopment Strategy that are designed to restore and reinvigorate our Queen City. Having the new Community Development Coordinator based right in the City of Poughkeepsie will ensure those plans can finally become realities all our county residents can benefit from.”

Mr. Hesse is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and holds a Master of Urban Planning degree from the Urban Affairs and Planning Program at Hunter College – City University of New York. Most recently, he has served as the Senior Research Planner for Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress, where he was involved in a multi-year planning initiative – the Urban Action Agenda – to promote population growth and economic development in the Hudson Valley’s urban centers. His career actually began in the City of Poughkeepsie, where he started in the City’s Building, Planning & Zoning department. He later served in the City’s Office of Social Development, where he was responsible for the administration of the Community Development Block Grant, among other responsibilities.

“I am thrilled to return to the City of Poughkeepsie and am eager to get to work on moving projects forward that will have a tremendous benefit to the City. I look forward to working with the great team of people at the Dutchess County Department of Planning & Development who I know want to see these plans and projects come to fruition. It is an exciting time to be in the City of Poughkeepsie and I am honored to work with Mayor Rolison, as well as County Executive Molinaro and the Dutchess County team, to be part of the City’s revitalization.”

City of Poughkeepsie Common Council Chair Chris Petsas said, “In 1950, our city had 10,000 more people than it does today. We must bring people back to our city if we want a thriving Main Street and jobs for our residents. But we don't want just any type of development, we want quality development that will honor our past and move us into the future. On behalf of the Common Council, I want to thank the County for bringing a planner of Paul's reputation back to the City.”

The new Community Development Coordinator partnership is critical in moving forward the collaborative efforts between the City and County that began in 2012, with the City and County as well other partners working together to develop an integrated waterfront plan to create connections up Main Street, and to surrounding neighborhoods.

Dutchess County Commissioner of Planning & Development Eoin Wrafter noted, “The addition of a Community Development Coordinator is vital to foster the implementation of the Waterfront Development Strategy and other plans like the City Center Revitalization and Middle Main, and to help bring appropriate development to the City. The County is pleased that we can provide shared services to the City as they restructure.”

The addition of the Community Development Coordinator will enable the City of Poughkeepsie to restructure planning and building function operations. Mr. Hesse will oversee planning and zoning functions, enabling the Building Department to focus on its core responsibilities.

Mayor Rolison noted, “This restructure will provide additional time and opportunity for the Building Department to focus on our expanded efforts to address distressed properties in the City.”

The new partnership has drawn praise from the local community as well.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to see the planning function at the City of Poughkeepsie restored under the able leadership of Paul Hesse. Paul has been a tremendous partner and resource to many efforts in the City of Poughkeepsie, and brings the skills and passion that the City needs to move forward at this critical moment,” said Elizabeth Celaya, Director of Organizational & Community Development at Hudson River Housing.