Spirit of Beacon ‘Alive and Well’

City also adopts $37 million capital plan

In danger a month ago of being canceled for the first time in 45 years, Spirit of Beacon Day is again “alive and well,” outgoing committee chair Gwenno James told the City Council on Tuesday (July 5) as she introduced the festival’s new organizers.

Katie Hellmuth Martin, who publishes A Little Beacon Blog, volunteered to take over organizing the parade and street fair after James’ work schedule intensified, said James, who began organizing the festival in 2018. The event will take place along Main Street on Sept. 25. 

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, Martin and a new slate of committee members said the theme for this year’s event will be “the origin story” of the Spirit of Beacon. Racial unrest led community leaders in 1977 to organize the inaugural festival in hopes of unifying the city’s residents, and “it was important to me to keep these roots alive and nourished” as part of this year’s event, Martin said. 

Martin said she’s planning outreach to determine how to best incorporate Main Street businesses into the festival, and hopes to have “destinations,” such as the Beacon Farmers’ Market, open for the day to help with pedestrian flow. 

A GoFundMe page will be set up to raise money for Spirit of Beacon Day, which costs at least $10,000 to put on annually. 

Capital plan approved

The council on Tuesday unanimously adopted a $36.6 million capital plan that outlines major projects the city will undertake, as well as the anticipated purchase of high-dollar items, such as police and Highway Department vehicles, from 2023 to 2027. 

Capital projects are funded through a combination of city fund balances, short- and long-term debt, grants and a trust fund that developers pay into that is earmarked for recreational infrastructure improvements. 

For 2023, the capital plan includes $10.5 million for the design and construction of the rehabbed Lewis Tompkins Hose Co. station, which, when completed, will serve as the city’s centralized fire station. Construction is expected to begin next year. 

The plan also includes $2 million for next year to partially fund repaving and building new sidewalks along the length of Route 52 (Fishkill Avenue and Teller Avenue) in Beacon. The balance of the $9 million project, slated to begin next spring, once right-of-way acquisition is complete, was funded through grants in previous capital plans.

The 2023-27 plan also allocates $400,000 for milling and paving city streets each of those years. 

There is $2.9 million earmarked for repairs at the Melzingah dam next year, with $1.3 million for the Mount Beacon dam the following year. In 2024, it includes $1.5 million to repair the basketball and tennis courts and parking lot at Riverfront Park, and $200,000 to install splash pads at Memorial and Riverfront parks in 2026. 

Notably, the 2023-27 plan also includes $5 million in placeholder funding in its final year for a community center, which Beacon has been without for more than a decade. City Administrator Chris White told council members that the scope and timing of that project will become clearer after consultants complete a recreational needs assessment for the city.  

Two projects, the creation of a pocket park in the Veterans Place block and stabilization and remediation of the Bridge Street bridge, were removed after grant funding for both fell through. White said on Wednesday that there are no immediate plans to seek alternate funding for the two projects. 

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