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County Executive Molinaro to Present $25 million Youth Center Plan to Legislature

Published: 7/6/2021

For More Information Contact:

Colleen Pillus, 845-486-2000
cpillus@dutchessny.gov

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro will present plans for a $25 million investment in a new, state-of-the-art Youth Opportunity Center in the City of Poughkeepsie to the Dutchess County Legislature’s Public Works and Capital Projects Committee on Thursday, July 8th. 

The center, to be constructed at the former YMCA site on Montgomery Street, will be a multi-use facility that focuses on recreational, educational and healthy opportunities – both physical and mental - for youth and also will be the home of the county’s Path to Promise initiative that employs strategic ways to ensure all young people in Dutchess County — from birth through employment — have the assets they need to achieve their full potential as they grow into young adults. 

“We are extremely excited to unveil and detail this plan to the Legislature,” said the County Executive. “This is the perfect site to create a youth center to offer activities, prevention, intervention and support and day care to help families and businesses, while also serving as a community resource for people throughout the county. Housing our Path to Promise program at the Youth Opportunity Center also makes abundant sense, allowing us to more efficiently and cost effectively incubate new ideas to export and implement here and across the County. We will also use the facility for events and services - acting as a regional destination.”

The County Executive first announced the innovative Path to Promise initiative during his 2017 State of the County Address. Through extensive countywide outreach to and input from young people, the motto “Nothing About Me Without Me” was adopted, serving as an unbending reminder of the county’s commitment to youth.

Developing performance measures, setting benchmarks and monitoring mechanisms are all part of the initiative, the County Executive said. For instance, working with community partners, Path to Promise will judge its success by whether the County can lower the poverty level, increase graduation rates and reduce the number of youth involved in the justice system.

Dutchess County Government annually spends approximately more than $70 million on youth services mandated by the state and federal governments; these include significant investments in early education and early intervention. The County invests nearly $6 million each year on youth development “discretionary services,” such as child care, teen parent supports, education, employment and drug awareness programs; most of these services are contracted through community agencies.

Additionally, the County recently launched the Learn, Play, Create: Supporting Our Kids grant program opportunity, utilizing $3 million in American Rescue Plan federal funds to provide one-time grants to local non-profit youth organizations.   Program guidance and application information is available HERE.

“Path to Promise is working to tie together the vast network of child services and programs in the county,’’ said Karmen Smallwood, Dutchess County Assistant Youth Commissioner who leads the Path to Progress initiative. “Path to Promise has conducted vast outreach from workshops and regional meetings, to listening town halls and youth summits to gain vital insights as we move with data-based solutions. Our presence in the Youth Empowerment Center will be beneficial to the community, and it will make a powerful statement about our commitment to youth.”

In May, the City of Poughkeepsie Common Council unanimously approved a resolution to have the County take ownership of the former YMCA property. The County Legislature is being asked to authorize acceptance of the property, to declare the County as lead agency and accept a negative declaration in the State Environmental Quality Review process, and to approve initial spending of $10 million from American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds, as part of the Dutchess Invests plan for utilizing ARP funding Approximately $5.5 million of those funds will be used for demolition of the former YMCA building and site remediation, $3 million will go toward design services for the youth center, with the remaining $1.5 million being earmarked for construction.  

Mass Design has been selected as the design consultant for the Youth Opportunity Center, following a recent Request for Proposals and review by the Dutchess County Legislature’s Architect/Engineer/Construction Management Consultant Selection Committee.  A comprehensive public design process, including extensive public engagement, is expected to take approximately a year. Once construction estimate costs are determined, County Executive Molinaro will request the County Legislature authorize $15 million in bonding to complete the County’s $25 million commitment to the project. As per the agreement with the City of Poughkeepsie, construction is scheduled to commence within 27 months after the County acquires the property.

The City originally took ownership of the property in early 2019 and issued a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) to obtain proposals to develop a youth and community center. The 35 Montgomery Community Coalition — which includes Dutchess County, youth-oriented organizations, as well as education and healthcare leaders — emerged as the successful respondent to that process,

The coalition, which also includes the YMCA of Kingston and Ulster County and DAY ONE Early Learning Community, seeks to create a multi-use facility that would provide services connected to their respective missions in the community. A stakeholders’ advisory board, which will include representatives of the County, City and 35 Montgomery Coalition, will be created to provide input on the design of the youth activity center and its future operations.

The Advisory Board also will work to secure funding sources in addition to the county’s $25 million commitment.