The Shrinking Golf Course

Owner donates 74 acres to Highlands land trust

Chris Davis, who owns The Garrison in Philipstown, has donated 74 acres of the 299-acre property to the Hudson Highlands Land Trust, the nonprofit announced on Wednesday (May 12).

The land, located along Snake Hill and Philipse Brook roads in Garrison, is part of an 18-hole golf course that Davis plans to close later this year. Last year he donated 52 acres of the property to the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, which has started the review process with the Town of Philipstown to move its operations there in 2022.

The HHLT board voted to accept the donation and will take possession later this year or in 2022 when the course closes. It said in a statement that it plans to “permanently protect this land and intends to oversee habitat restoration, while simultaneously working with the community to develop a thoughtful plan for public access.”

The land trust said it also is working with Davis on a conservation easement covering another portion of The Garrison — 100-acres of woodlands off Snake Hill Road.

In a statement, Davis said the goal for the Garrison Golf Club property is “to permanently protect 300 acres at the heart of our community and put in place a program with organizations that share our love for the Hudson Highlands and will serve as vigilant stewards.”

While much of the 74 acres was developed for golf, the property includes forest, wetlands and wildlife habitat, HHLT said. The group said it would “solicit significant community and stakeholder engagement as it develops the restoration and management plans for the project.” It said it planned to survey the land and complete an environmental assessment over the next several months, followed by public forums.

When announcing in April that the golf course would be closed, Davis said he would offer easements and/or ownership of about 155 acres for conservation. The remaining 145 acres will include The Garrison’s hospitality businesses, the acreage given to HVSF and a parcel for a single-family home, all of which he said will be protected through deed restrictions and/or conservation easements. He said the HVSF would receive more acreage than planned to provide more flexibility for its site design in response to the town’s ongoing review.

When HVSF announced Davis’s gift in August, it said he planned to divide the 155 acres into four parcels: 52 acres for HVSF; 95 acres for a nine-hole course (a plan since abandoned); 28 acres for Davis’ residence; and 27 acres along Route 9 that might eventually also be given to HVSF.

Davis is a member of the board of the Hudson Highlands Land Trust, which he chaired for more than 15 years, and chairs the group planning the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail between Cold Spring and Beacon. He also is a vice chair of the American Museum of Natural History, a former director of Scenic Hudson and a financial supporter of HVSF.

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