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Progress Continues on Transformative Youth Opportunity Union Project
Advisory Committee Established and Future Operator Selected

Published: 11/18/2021

Poughkeepsie, NY — Dutchess County continues to progress on the design and development of a new state-of-the-art youth facility that will serve as home to the County’s Path to Promise initiative at the former YMCA site on Montgomery Street in the City of Poughkeepsie. County Executive Marc Molinaro announced the Advisory Committee for the Youth Opportunity Union (YOU) initiative has been formed and the Committee held its inaugural meeting this week. Additionally, the future operator for the YOU has been selected following a Request for Proposals process and is represented on the Advisory Committee.

“The Youth Opportunity Union Advisory Committee will provide essential input and feedback as we move forward with this inspiring and vital project that will be the hub of our countywide Path to Promise initiative and a model for other communities,” said County Executive Molinaro. “We are grateful such a high-caliber group of individuals has agreed to step up and help us with this important task.”

The YOU Advisory Committee includes four members of the 35 Montgomery Community Coalition — a group of community stakeholders who have been involved in the redevelopment of the YMCA site since 2019 —and members selected by County Executive Molinaro, Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison, Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Gregg Pulver and City Common Council Chair Sarah Salem, as well as a representative from the future operator. 

The YOU Advisory Committee members are:

  • Stacey Bottoms, assistant to City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison and Associate Minister, Youth Director and Assistant Clerk of Beulah Baptist Church.
  • Dr. Renee Fillette, Executive Director of Dutchess Outreach.
  • Dr. Richard Hooley, Former Dutchess BOCES Superintendent.
  • Heidi Kirschner, President/CEO, The YMCA of Kingston and Ulster County.
  • Geraldine Laybourne, Co-Founder of Day One Early Learning Community and former Nickelodeon President.
  • Wesley Lee, former Coordinator of the Even Start Family Literacy program for the Poughkeepsie City School District and Assistant Professor of History and Government at Dutchess Community College.
  • John Nelson, Assistant Vice President, Community, Government, Public Relations, Nuvance Health.
  • Karmen Smallwood, Assistant Commissioner for Youth Services, Dutchess County Department of Community & Family Services.
  • L’Quette Taylor; Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Community Matters 2.

The Dutchess County Legislature recently authorized a land agreement with the City of Poughkeepsie and a $10 million request from County Executive Molinaro for the County to begin work on creating the center. Construction of the YOU, a multi-use facility offering young people recreational, educational and healthy opportunities — both physical and mental — is expected to begin in 2023 following an extensive public outreach for the project plan and design.

As part of the agreement in the sale and purchase resolutions approved by the City of Poughkeepsie Common Council and Dutchess County Legislature, the advisory committee will be participating in the design process, including the ongoing public engagement.  Once the design phase is further along, the County Executive will request the County Legislature to authorize an additional $15 million in bonding to complete the County’s $25 million commitment to the project.

Through a Request for Proposals process, the YMCA of Kingston and Ulster County has been selected to serve as the operator of the YOU when the facility is built. The YMCA of Kingston and Ulster County is a community-based organization that provides social, health, physical education and recreation services to residents. In Ulster County, programs include school-age childcare, health enhancement/fitness classes, summer camps, swim lessons for all ages, special scholarship programs for low-income youth and families as well as physical rehabilitation programs.  As part of the Advisory Committee, the YMCA will be part of the Advisory Committee’s efforts to work with the community and key stakeholders to shape the vision of the YOU and to initiate meaningful, powerful programming for a positive impact on youth and the community.

The YOU Advisory Committee will work with MASS Design Group, project lead and architect for the YOU. MASS, and its work in Poughkeepsie, was recently featured on a  CBS “60 Minutes” segment that recognized the firm’s commitment to social impact through award-winning and innovative work.   MASS has been coordinating public outreach to encourage input and feedback about the design of the YOU facility and the programs and services to be offered.

YOU Advisory Committee members will promote various public outreach events and opportunities, such as the recently launched website, www.the-you.org, which provides updates and information about the YOU, and encourage the constituencies they represent to be engaged in the development of the YOU.

The next YOU outreach event, “Cocoa & Convo – A Distributed Town Hall” is tentatively scheduled be held in the City of Poughkeepsie on Thursday, December 9th.  More information will be available at www.the-you.org.