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.
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.