State Pumps Millions in Development Dollars into Region

Dennings Point improvements among projects funded

By Jeff Simms

A number of agencies in the Highlands have received substantial state grants for projects beginning and continuing into 2017.

The money comes from the state Regional Economic Development Councils (EDC), which were established in 2011 to develop plans tailored to the strengths and resources of each of 10 regions, such as the Mid-Hudson Valley, which includes Dutchess and Putnam counties. The region received $83.3 million this year to support 105 projects, out of more than $700 million distributed statewide.

Among the projects funded are plans to transform portions of Dennings Point in Beacon into a more visitor-friendly park as well as a downtown revitalization initiative by the city and Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress.

Water chestnut covers the bay in front of Denning’s Point State Park along the Beacon waterfront. (Photo by P. Doan)

The $500,000 Dennings Point grant, awarded to the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, will be used to supplement efforts already underway to improve access to and improve facilities at the popular hiking spot just south of the Beacon Metro-North station. Efforts include a rehab of the bridge that leads into Dennings Point, the partial conversion of a factory building into on-site parking, a solar energy array on the factory roof and a large pavilion fashioned from the factory building and located on the shores of Fishkill Creek bay.

The bulk of the projects are scheduled to begin in September 2017, after the bridge is re-opened.

According to the nonprofit Beacon Institute, the factory improvement project will complement other work at Dennings Point, including bald eagle viewing stations built on the shoreline last year and extensive trail improvements. Trail work is slated to begin in September and will improve ADA accessibility on the riverside path along the length of the point.

Current funding for these projects comes from the New York Power Authority and the state parks department. The EDC grant provides the final funding needed to complete them.

The state also funded a series of Mid-Hudson Regional Downtown Initiatives for development analyses of urban centers in Dutchess, Putnam, Westchester, Ulster and Orange counties. Beacon, together with Hudson Valley Pattern, received $175,000 to conduct a study on how to retain and attract businesses; city officials hope to leverage the grant for additional economic development funding.

Research conducted with the grant will be used to create a blueprint for how Beacon stakeholders want the city to look in 10 years — part of a series of profiles to be drawn up for urban centers in the Hudson Valley. The goal is to better prepare cities for private investment as well as future state and federal government funding opportunities.

Other grants include $300,000 for an expansion of Fishkill Farms orchards and construction of a craft cider facility, tasting room and event space. The Village of Brewster, together with Putnam County, received $2 million to begin the first phase of a village revitalization plan, and KAS Spirits in Mahopac received $5,000 to increase production of its spiced honey liquor.

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4 Responses to "State Pumps Millions in Development Dollars into Region"

  1. Fred Fryer   January 2, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    I believe it would be more accurate to state that funding comes from New York state citizens in the form of taxes and fees paid, as well as the same paid by small and large businesses. To state the funding comes from these government agencies is misleading at worst or misinformed at best.

    • Frank Haggerty   January 3, 2017 at 2:13 pm

      Yes. And the corollary process is one of centralization — political centralization.

      There is a diminishment of the economic and political viability and of the flexibility and the independence of smaller and local municipalities in this state — municipalities which are as a consequence left with fewer resources and less leeway to raise sufficient tax revenues so as to manage and solve their own specific, often unique, local challenges, locally.

    • Patty Villanova   January 3, 2017 at 4:44 pm

      You are 100 percent correct about taxpayers being the source of the money for these projects. There is a real danger that people will forget this as the politicians establish bragging rights to the initiatives that are mentioned in this article.

      Don’t get me wrong. I am delighted that taxpayers are getting something in return for the millions that we pump into state and local government. I just wish that the people who are running Cold Spring, Philipstown and Putnam Valley were more astute and could figure out how to get some of the largesse.

      Once again, it’s Beacon that is taking advantage of these programs and maximizing their taxpayers’ contributions. I’m not sure who all their local government officials are, but they are sure doing a much better job than their counterparts in Putnam.

  2. Ann Fanizzi   January 4, 2017 at 5:18 am

    Alone of the County proposals, only Brewster made the cut and received $2 million for revitalization of the village. Beacon and Brewster share certain characteristics and fit into the current planning paradigm encouraging small towns as hubs of commerce and transportation, centers of the arts and social and residential spaces for 21st century professional class.