Feds Supply Millions for Philipstown Infrastructure, Environment

Town receives $1.78 million; HVSF gets $3.5 million  

The federal government this week supplied more than $5 million for infrastructure and environmental projects in Philipstown: $3.5 million for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s planned restoration of the former Garrison golf course and $1.78 million for a town Highway Department garage topped by a solar roof. 

President Joe Biden on Tuesday (March 15) signed the bill containing the funding, part of omnibus budget-finance legislation that passed the Senate on March 10, a day after its approval in the House of Representatives.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a Philipstown resident, pushed both projects, plus others in his Mid-Hudson Valley district, as earmarks, or projects incorporated in spending bills that benefit particular districts. The Democrat’s other earmarks included $3.12 million for sewers and roads in Newburgh and $2 million for cancer-treatment equipment at Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital.

“Obviously, we’re very excited about the grant” which “goes right in with [state] Climate Smart” initiatives, reflected in the eco-friendly design of the garage, under construction at the Highway Department site on Fishkill Road in Nelsonville, said Philipstown Supervisor John Van Tassel. Demolished in July, the former building “leaked air and water and was just a mess,” he said. “Just the energy savings alone in that [new] building will be tremendous.”

Although town officials in 2021 had expressed hopes of receiving $2 million, the grant still offers “big assistance, to say the least” toward the estimated $3.5 million cost, Van Tassel said. With the president’s signature, the funding “is set in stone, so we’re in good shape.” 

At the former Garrison golf course, HVSF intends to establish a cultural campus as its permanent home, with buildings surrounded by undeveloped land. Putnam County will receive the HVSF share of the federal money and pass it along, and it must be used exclusively for environmental restoration, landscaping and related site work, said Davis McCallum, HVSF’s artistic director.

McCallum said that the $3.5 million “will permanently protect and conserve nearly 100 acres” by “remediating the damage from 60 years as a golf course and converting the mown fairways to native meadows,” improving wildlife habitats and fighting pollution. Along with restoring the land, the funds will facilitate public access, he said.

According to McCallum, HVSF will not receive any funds until the Philipstown Planning Board approves its proposal; Van Tassel has said he will issue a permit in the meantime for the festival to erect its tent on the property for the 2022 summer season.

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