Legislature approves stadium repair, BOCES vote Dec. 11

By Jeff Simms

Legislators Approve Stadium Repairs

In a reversal of its decision three weeks ago, the Dutchess County Legislature on Dec. 3 approved $2.4 million in bond funding to repair Dutchess Stadium for its tenants, the Hudson Valley Renegades minor league baseball team (Highlands Could Lose Renegades, Nov. 16).

The stadium will be outfitted with a new concrete seating bowl, among other fixes, before the Renegades, a Class A Short Season team for the Tampa Bay Rays, begin their 2019 season in June.

A Renegades game at Dutchess Stadium (File photo by Michael Turton)

On Nov. 13, the Legislature rejected the same funding proposal, saying members had not been given enough time or information to review the project. Since then, legislators asked County Executive Marc Molinaro to clarify the long-term future of the Renegades, who have played at the stadium since it was constructed in 1994. Meanwhile, the Beacon City School District, which owns the land beneath the stadium, approved a one-year extension on its lease of the land to the county.

“We received the necessary information to move forward,” said Francena Amparo (D-Wappinger) after the lawmakers’ Dec. 3 meeting. “But we will need to see the Renegades memorandum of understanding, an audit on Dutchess Stadium by our county comptroller, and detailed plans before considering a phase two.”

Renegades owner Jeff Goldklang said on Wednesday that he expects the team and county to complete by year’s end a preliminary agreement laying out the framework for a 20-year lease. County officials would then have the coming year to negotiate their own long-term lease with the school district.

“I do not anticipate any options or ‘out clauses’ ” in the agreement “as long as the agreed-upon funding is in place and is used for improvements that will bring Dutchess Stadium to modern professional standards,” Goldklang said. “Some of those improvements are structural and necessary to remain compliant, while others will address the fan experience.” Molinaro and Goldklang have both said the team will contribute toward the second phase of improvements, which will require an additional approval of funds from the Legislature.

BOCES Seeks Funding

The Dutchess County Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) is asking voters to approve a spending proposal on Tuesday, Dec. 11, to renovate and relocate its facilities (Dutchess Schools to Ask Voters for $37 Million, Oct. 26).

BOCES offers vocational services and runs an alternative high school and special education programs for its 13 member districts, which include Beacon. One of 37 such agencies statewide, its offerings are available to the more than 50,000 public school students in Dutchess County.

The funding package would upgrade the BOCES Career and Technical Institute (CTI) in Poughkeepsie for high school students and the adjacent Salt Point Center for elementary and middle school students receiving special education services. It would also move the Alternative High School, which is in a Poughkeepsie industrial park and in dire need of repairs, according to BOCES officials, to the CTI site.

A rendering of the proposed upgrades to the Dutchess BOCES campus in Poughkeepsie, with additions in white (BOCES)

Dutchess voters defeated a similar $29.7 million proposal in 2009. If this plan is adopted, it would be the agency’s first major capital undertaking since the 1960s.

BOCES officials are calling the proposal “cost-neutral” because they expect the upgrades to pay for themselves over the next 20 years by reducing rent, maintenance, transportation and utility costs.

The immediate effect for Beacon homeowners would be a $6 to $8 increase in annual property taxes, based on a parcel valued at $275,000, the Dutchess average. Additional school system costs would come out of the district’s overall tax levy, not as an addition to it.

Polls will be open from 12 to 8 p.m. Voters can go to any of BOCES’ 14 voting locations, but the closest for Beacon residents is the district office at 10 Education Drive.

Beacon Adopts Budget

The Beacon City Council on Dec. 3 approved the city’s $28.6 million 2019 budget, a plan which includes property tax rate decreases on residential and commercial parcels. Property assessments, however, were largely up in Beacon, so the rate decrease will not automatically signify a lower overall tax bill. Additionally, the budget showed 5 and 10 percent rate increases for water and sewer service and draws $326,000 from the city’s fund balance while staying within the state-mandated 2 percent tax cap.

The costs of health insurance, workers’ compensation, recycling and the consolidation of long-term debt all jumped significantly, while energy costs were down due to implementation of LED streetlights and anticipated savings from the city’s new solar power farm.

Hearings, Hearings, Hearings

At its meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 11, the Beacon Planning Board will hold a public hearing on a request to extend seating for the Melzingah Tap House outdoors to its pavilion and patio. The restaurant, which opened in April at 554 Main St., hopes to host live acoustic music from May to November.

The Planning Board will also hold a hearing on a request to amend a special-use permit for The Roundhouse on East Main Street. If approved, plans for an on-site spa would be scrapped, with 10 additional hotel rooms built in its place, bringing the total to 51. A private dining room would be replaced with administrative offices. The City Council approved the amended special-use permit on Dec. 3 but the Planning Board must grant approval before the project can proceed.

A third hearing will address a proposal to build 29 additional live/work spaces at The Lofts at Beacon, a development at 39 Front St. The council approved the amended special-use permit on Oct. 15.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Simms has covered Beacon for The Current since 2015. He studied journalism at Appalachian State University and has reported for newspapers in North Carolina and Maryland. Location: Beacon. Languages: English. Area of expertise: Beacon politics