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Poughkeepsie, NY… Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro and City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison are moving forward on the development of a Youth Opportunity Center at the site of the former YMCA on Montgomery Street in Poughkeepsie. The two leaders have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishing a formal partnership to redevelop the property, with Dutchess County pledging commitment for up to $25 million for the design and construction of a new Youth Opportunity Center at the site.
With support from the City Council and the Dutchess County Legislature, the process will begin with the demolition of the existing structure due to deterioration and environmental concerns. The site will be transformed into community green space while plans continue for a youth center and other community benefit services on the more than 3-acre site.
County Executive Molinaro said, “The County is eager and determined to move forward with the development of the YMCA site to create a center where the youth of our county can have the support and resources they need from birth through adulthood. The center will serve as a compass for them on the Path to Promise. Though the past six months have tested us like never before, our resolve remains fervent, and we are making the deliberate, thoughtful decision to make this long-term investment in a countywide youth center. It is clear that as we look around us, both nationally and locally, that our society needs such a facility to help youth successfully navigate their path to adulthood and we are excited to take these next steps to bring this much-needed resource to fruition.”
“This is a significant step in our overall vision,” said City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison. “We will bring activities to this site that affirm our commitment to create a community and recreation resource for the public. Taking the building down and creating open space in the interim is a sound, practical move that will benefit the community. We greatly appreciate our parternship with Dutchess County to get this project moving and look forward to future steps that will greatly strengthen our community.”
The MOU outlines the intent and process to build the Youth Opportunity Center, including agreement that the County will have joint ownership of the property with the City of Poughkeepsie. (The City took ownership of the YMCA property as part of its anti-blight initiative last year with the goal of using the property to yield significant community benefit.) The County of Dutchess must have an ownership interest in the property in order to finance any construction through a bond under local finance law. Next steps will include drafting and formalizing an intermunicipal agreement between the City and the County, which Mayor Rolison will submit to the City Council for approval at a future meeting. Following City Council adoption of the agreement, the Dutchess County Legislature will then vote to authorize the agreement. Once the intermunicipal agreement has been authorized by both bodies, County Executive Molinaro will forward a resolution to the County Legislature to finance the demolition of the building and creation of temporary green space, and future construction of the youth center.
The City and County will engage with 35 Montgomery Community Coalition, whose vision presentation for the site, which can be viewed at cityofpoughkeepsie.com/35montgomerystreet, involves a multi-use facility that would provide services connected to their respective missions in the community. The coalition, which includes Dutchess County as well as education and health care leaders, has been working together to determine the most appropriate organizational structure to advance the project. The City, County and the coalition will work to secure funding sources in addition to the County’s $25 million commitment.
Chairman of the County Legislature Gregg Pulver voiced his support for the plan saying, “A youth center has been part of our discussions for several years now and it is encouraging to have this clear path laid out. Once the City Council approves the agreement, I look forward this project being adopted in the County’s next Capital Plan.” Chairman Pulver noted he expects the proposal to have overwhelming support in the Legislature as part of the County’s Path to Promise initiative. He also noted Democratic lawmakers on both the Common Council and County Legislature just last week publicly stated support for the County investment, which should allow the process to begin soon.
Dutchess County’s Path to Promise initiative strives to ensure that all young people in Dutchess County – from birth through age 19 – have the assets they need to achieve their full potential as they grow into young adults. The Youth Opportunity Center will be home to many of the activities, programs, and organizations supported by Path to Promise. “It will be the first destination on a path to building a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life for young people. The Center is an investment in our young people, and therefore, an investment in our future,” concluded Molinaro.