Stephen M. Saland

June 26, 2012

Written by John Davis, Poughkeepsie Journal, June 26, 2012

A waterfront public park could open in 2013 if the sale of a historic City of Poughkeepsie parcel to the Dyson Foundation continues to move forward.

Lawmakers in the New York state Assembly and Senate last week adopted home-rule legislation authorizing the city to sell the Upper Landing parcel to the Millbrook-based philanthropic organization.  State Sen. Steve Saland, R-Poughkeepsie, and Assemblyman Frank Skartados, D-Milton, spearheaded the passing of the bills in both chambers of the Legislature.

The approvals follow a vote in March by the Poughkeepsie Common Council to sell the 2.7-acre parcel on North Water Street to the foundation for $675,000.

“The Dyson Foundation is very grateful that the New York state Senate and Assembly have supported our plan to create a public waterfront park in the City of Poughkeepsie,” said Chris Dyson, Dyson Foundation director and treasurer.

“We deeply appreciate the leadership of Sen. Saland and Assemblyman Skartados in sponsoring the legislation to support this bill.” Saland said, “Through the continuing generosity of the Dyson Foundation, the City of Poughkeepsie and area residents will benefit from the sale of this land.”

Skartados said, “The residents of the city and the region will be able to further enjoy the Hudson River in a new park, and benefit by the restoration of two historic buildings.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign the home rule bill within 30 days, clearing the way for the transaction to take place, said Stephen Densmore, Dyson Foundation spokesman.

The city planning board will then review the project and is likely to approve the site plan, Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik said.

The foundation plans to invest $1 million in transforming the dilapidated former industrial site into a public park with green space, a brick plaza and walkways along the Hudson River and Fallkill Creek, which empties into the river there. This investment includes stabilizing two historic structures on the site — the Hoffman and Reynolds houses.

“The aim is for the park to open in the fall of 2013,” Densmore said.

In 2006, the city paid Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. $765,000 for the Upper Landing. Because the city is not in a good financial position to improve the site, the mayor and city council welcomed the offer by the Dyson Foundation to acquire and invest in it.

“The Dyson Foundation’s project on the revitalization of Upper Landing is a true gift to the City of Poughkeepsie by creating a historic waterfront park and continues to build upon the foundation set by Walkway Over the Hudson,” Tkazyik said.

The site for an elevator that will carry visitors from the waterfront to the pedestrian walkway on the former Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge adjoins the Upper Landing. Walkway Over the Hudson is raising money to pay for the elevator installation.

“We are hoping the park will open concurrently with the Walkway’s waterfront elevator,” Densmore said.