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City of Poughkeepsie officials to Give Updates About Economic, Community Development at Chamber Breakfast

City of Poughkeepsie economic and community development officials will be the featured presenters at the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce’s monthly breakfast in November.

Image of Paul Hesse,  Community Development Coordinator
and Paul Calogerakis, Economic Development Director
(left) Paul Hesse, Community Development Coordinator
(right) Paul Calogerakis, Economic Development Director

Paul Calogerakis, economic development director for the city, and Paul Hesse, community development coordinator for the city, will be providing updates on various projects and will take questions from the audience. The Chamber breakfast will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20 at The Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel & Conference Center, 40 Civic Center Plaza.

The City has seen a considerable uptick in economic activity in the last few years, including new residential units and businesses.

“We have been making great strides,” said Mayor Rob Rolison. “I am looking forward to having part of our team here at City Hall give key details of what has been happening — and why it is good for the city.”

More than 1,200 housing units have been either recently completed or are under construction — and one third of them are below market rate. And one million square feet of commercial space has been recently completed, under construction or in the approval process.

City officials also say the Federal Opportunity Zone Program is attracting more interest from developers, people who want to invest in the city.

“The combined forces of greater personnel capacity at City Hall, Opportunity Zone tax legislation, creation of the Innovation District, abundant available real estate inventory and the high demand for housing has created a ‘perfect storm’ for development in the City of Poughkeepsie,” Calogerakis said.

A map of the City of Poughkeepsie Innovation District
A map of the City of Poughkeepsie Innovation District

Frank Castella Jr., president and CEO of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce, said, “The Chamber’s monthly breakfast events include presentations regarding economic issues that are relevant for our membership. With the growing number and scale of developments in the City of Poughkeepsie, we wanted to provide this update for our audience so they can see the increased level of activity that is happening in and around downtown.”

City officials recently created an Innovation District to streamline projects in the downtown area and are working to overhaul the City’s comprehensive plan and waterfront vision. As its finances have improved, the City has been able to leverage grant money from the state to undertake pedestrian safety and green infrastructure projects.

The City also has created an Anti-Blight Task Force that includes non-profit housing partners Habitat for Humanity of Dutchess County, Rebuilding Together Dutchess County, and Hudson River Housing. Since its inception in 2018, the task force has addressed more than 100 vacant properties. The City had slightly more than 600 in 2018; that number is now below 500. As part of this effort, the City also took ownership of the former YMCA site on Montgomery Street and has held three well-attended public meetings focusing on a community-minded reuse of the property.

Artist rendering of Catharine Street housing proposal 
(Image Credit: Kearney Realty & Development Group)
Artist rendering of Catharine Street housing proposal
(Image Credit: Kearney Realty & Development Group)

Hesse said, “The City’s been making strategic policy shifts, particularly with respect to planning and zoning, that have signaled our soundness for investment, and you’re now seeing the fruits of those policy shifts blossom.  At the same time, the City is now investing in places for people, undertaking meaningful improvements to public spaces that enhance the quality of life for residents.  We’re demonstrating our commitment to investing in our community, and the private sector is taking notice.”

Chamber members and guests will need to pre-register for the Contact Breakfast by visiting dcrcoc.org or calling 845.454.1700 x 1000. Tickets are $25 for members, and $35 for non-members.

City of Poughkeepsie Sets Public Information Session For YMCA Site Submissions

The City of Poughkeepsie will hold a public information session on Wednesday, Oct. 23 regarding possible future uses for the former YMCA site on Montgomery Street. The meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Changepoint Church, 260 Mill St., Poughkeepsie.

In early September, the city released the four submissions it had received in connection to reuse of the site and then appointed an advisory committee that includes members of the public to review the applications and make recommendations to the administration.

Two of the respondents – one suggesting a Swimming Past the Boundaries Aquatic Center, the other seeking the creation of an arts museum – have subsequently withdrawn from the process.

Two others – one proposing a multi-use facility that would include community and recreational services, the other envisioning a Poughkeepsie Museum of Contemporary Art – are expected to make presentations to the public at the Oct. 23 meeting.

 “This has been an effective and open process,” said Mayor Rob Rolison. “The city took ownership of this property earlier this year after the site sat dormant for about a decade, and we are making great strides to bringing it back to life.”

As part of this process, city officials held two well-attended meetings and then answered dozens of questions the public posed at those meetings. The city also presented to the public a video showing extensive damage to the inside of the building that has been vacant for about a decade.

The 35 Montgomery Community Coalition has one of the remaining proposals. The coalition includes Community Matters 2, Inc., DAY ONE Early Childhood Learning Community, Dutchess Community College, Dutchess County, MASS Design Group, Nuvance Health, Poughkeepsie Farm Project, Poughkeepsie Public Library District, Vassar College, and YMCA of Kingston and Ulster County.

Andrew Gori and Ambre Kelly, co-founders of The They Co., have put forward the other remaining proposal calling for a contemporary arts museum.

At the public information session, each respondent will get 20 minutes to make a presentation and then answer questions from the public.

Members of the city’s YMCA Site Selection Advisory Committee also will be at the public information session. Mayor Rolison has appointed Dutchess County Legislator Barbara Jeter Jackson to chair the committee, which also includes Common Council member Sarah Salem of the Second Ward, where the former YMCA is located. Other members of the committee are city residents Tamoya Norwood, Sashawna Isaacs and Arthur T. Rollin; Paul Calogerakis, the city’s economic development director; and John Penney, the city’s community engagement director.

Links to the submissions are below:

To make a comment about the submissions, email [email protected]

City Receives Applicant Submissions for Reuse of Former YMCA Site

35 Montgomery Street (Former YMCA Facility)

The City of Poughkeepsie has released the applicant submissions it has received regarding possible future uses of the former YMCA property on Montgomery Street.

Here is a summary of the submissions:

The 35 Montgomery Community Coalition – which includes Community Matters 2, Inc., DAY ONE Early Childhood Learning Community, Dutchess Community College, Dutchess County, MASS Design Group, Nuvance Health, Poughkeepsie Farm Project, Poughkeepsie Public Library District, Vassar College, and YMCA of Kingston and Ulster County – is proposing a multi-use facility that would provide services connected to their respective missions in the community.

“Our proposal re-establishes the former YMCA site as a community and recreation resource that can be a safe, structured and horizon expanding space for Poughkeepsie’s youth and families,” the coalition wrote in a submission sent by Chris Kroner, principal of MASS Design Group.

“More than just a building, our proposal and the coalition behind it represent a comprehensive, cross-sector commitment to giving Poughkeepsie’s children the best possible start in life.”

Andrew Gori and Ambre Kelly, co-founders of The They Co., are proposing to establish a Poughkeepsie Museum of Contemporary Art. “Our 9 year history in revitalizing New York City and Los Angeles spaces and boroughs gives us great excitement to do the same in our hometown of Poughkeepsie, while also including a sensitivity to community retention that could serve as a model for future towns.”

Christopher Bledsoe, aquatic consultant at Swimming Past the Boundaries, is proposing The Swimming Past the Boundaries Aquatic Center (SPBAC), a 22,000-square-foot indoor aquatic facility that would “provide an asset to the immediate surrounding community and Dutchess County as a whole.”

Artist Carolyn Hutchings Edlund is proposing an Art Museum. “The newly available YMCA property would make an outstanding museum location having already the bones of the structure, parking, and surrounding parkland in which to display sculptures, host out-of-doors performing arts events.”

The submission date for ideas was Thursday Sept. 5. 

The city will hold a public information session at a later date to receive input about the plans from residents. The city also has appointed an advisory committee that includes members of the public to review the applications and make recommendations to the administration.

Links to the submissions are below:

Poughkeepsies’ Water Treatment Facility Will Get Upgrades

Working under a joint agreement, the City of Poughkeepsie and Town of Poughkeepsie own and operate the Poughkeepsies’ Water Treatment Facility, and they are continuing to make significant improvements to the plant.

The two municipalities are moving forward with an approximate $4.5 million project that will replace the facility’s UV disinfection equipment that helps to purify the water originating from the Hudson River.

Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison said, “We have spent millions of dollars on making sure the water that we take from the Hudson River is safe to drink. Working with other municipalities, we are taking more steps to protect the water at its source.  But the plant’s operation is imperative as well.”

Town of Poughkeepsie Supervisor Jon Baisley said, “The town is committed to doing its part to keep the plant operating in a safe and effective manner. These upgrades are part of larger commitment the Town and City have made to improve the water treatment facility.”

The city will put $2.5 million toward the project; the town will pay approximately $2 million.

The project is expected to begin in the fall and will take approximately two years to complete.

Poughkeepsies’ Joint Water Board has recommended certain improvements to the facility, including replacement of UV disinfection equipment.

“Ultraviolet water purification is our primary method for disinfecting pathogens from the water,” said Randy J. Alstadt, administrator of the Water Treatment Facility. “This is yet another major investment in our facility, to the betterment of our drinking water system.  The replacement is necessary because the manufacturer no longer supports the equipment. The new design is projected to save $90,000 annually in electric costs.”

The water treatment plant is located within the Marist College campus on property co-owned by the city and the town. The city has hired the engineering and environmental consulting firm Tighe & Bond as engineers for the project and is working with its state partners to identify grants that could help defray the costs of the upgrades.

 Over the past two decades, the city and town have spent approximately $40 million to improve the plant.

City of Poughkeepsie Intends to Release Applicant Information Regarding YMCA Site Friday, Sept. 6

On Friday, Sept. 6, the City of Poughkeepsie will release the applicant information it has received regarding possible future uses of the former YMCA property on Montgomery Street. The city will hold a public information session at a later date to receive input from residents about the plans.

Earlier this year, the city took ownership of the property as part of its anti-blight initiative. It then released a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI), with the goal of soliciting ideas for future uses of the property that will yield significant community benefit.

The submission date for proposals is 3 p.m. Thursday Sept. 5.

 “We promised the public an open process, and we are delivering,” said Mayor Rob Rolison. “The public shouldn’t have to wait long to find out more about what is being proposed. The city is giving itself one day to release the information, in the event an applicant comes in the day of the deadline.”

During this process, the city has held two well-attended meetings and then answered dozens of questions the public posed at those meetings. Those answers have been posted on the city’s website about this project, http://cityofpoughkeepsie.com/35montgomerystreet

The city also presented to the public a video showing extensive damage to the inside of the building that has been vacant for about a decade.

“Whatever becomes of the site,” said Mayor Rolison. “The public should be mindful it will take time to complete any substantial initiative. We look forward to sharing information and continuing to work with the public and any would-be applicant on the best solution to bringing a positive, community-minded project to fruition.”

City of Poughkeepsie Answers Dozens of Questions Posed During Two Public Meetings Regarding Former YMCA Property

With approximately one month before a key deadline, City of Poughkeepsie officials have answered dozens of questions from the public regarding possible future uses of the former Dutchess YMCA property on Montgomery Street. Those answers have been posted on the city’s website about this project, http://cityofpoughkeepsie.com/35montgomerystreet

The City of Poughkeepsie held its second public meeting at the Christ Episcopal Church in June.

 The city has held two well-attended meetings regarding the fate of the YMCA site. The first meeting, at the Family Partnership Center in May, was attended by about 80 people. The second one, at the Christ Episcopal Church in June, attracted approximately 80 as well. At the second meeting, the city also presented a video showing extensive damage to the inside of the building that has been vacant for about a decade.

“City staff have put a significant amount of time into this effort,” said Mayor Rob Rolison. “Answering the public’s questions to the best of our abilities most certainly is a key component of this process.”

 Earlier this year, the city took ownership of the property as part of its anti-blight initiative. It then released a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) for the property, with the goal of soliciting ideas for future uses of the property that will yield significant community benefit.

The submission date for proposals to 3 p.m. Thursday Sept. 5. 

As that date nears, city officials also have approved an additional $100,000 to its Youth Activities & Opportunities Program established in 2018. The awards assist local non-profit organizations by providing funding to support clubs and leagues as well as various summer and educational programs. Applicants are encouraged to contact the Office of Social Development at (845) 451-4046 for further information or to discuss program eligibility. The application form can be found here: http://cityofpoughkeepsie.com/commdev/

City Extends Deadline for Responses to ‘Request for Expressions of Interest’ Regarding Former YMCA Property

City of Poughkeepsie officials have extended the deadline from Aug. 5 to Sept. 5 in order to afford potential respondents further time to present their vision for future use of the former Dutchess YMCA property on Montgomery Street.

Since releasing a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) for the property earlier this year, the city has held two well-attended public meetings regarding the former YMCA site and wants to give respondents more time to put forth their ideas. The first meeting, at the Family Partnership Center in May, was attended by about 80 people. The second one, at the Christ Episcopal Church in June, attracted approximately 80 as well. At the second meeting, the city presented a video showing extensive damage to the inside of the building that has been vacant for about a decade. The city took ownership of the property as part of its anti-blight initiative.

The RFEI is intended to solicit ideas that will yield significant community benefit, such as social and neighborhood cohesion and/or the creation of facilities serving youth and young adults. 

“Whatever becomes of the site,” said City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison. “This will no doubt be a complex project, which will likely spur innovation and new collaborations. The public comments to date have been insightful.”

The city has extended the submission date for proposals to 3 p.m. Thursday Sept. 5. 

As this process continues, the city officials recently approved an additional $100,000 to its Youth Activities & Opportunities Program established in 2018. The awards assist local non-profit organizations by providing funding to support clubs and leagues as well as various summer and educational programs. The recent budget amendment makes available immediately to eligible organizations that provide positive, creative and healthy programs and activities for children.

Applicants are encouraged to contact the Office of Social Development at (845) 451-4046 for further information or to discuss program eligibility. The application form can be found here: http://cityofpoughkeepsie.com/commdev/

Details about the YMCA project can be found at http://cityofpoughkeepsie.com/35montgomerystreet

Local Educators Traveling to Mexico in Poughkeepsie-Oaxaca Initiative

Two teachers and a guidance counselor from the Poughkeepsie City School District will travel to Oaxaca, Mexico this August in the first initiative of the Poughkeepsie-Oaxaca Friendship Committee.  

The committee, which has several Latino members, was formed in October 2018 to further ties between educational, cultural and business connections between Poughkeepsie and Oaxaca, the city of origin for many Poughkeepsie residents. Poughkeepsie has often been called “Little Oaxaca” by journalists because of its thriving restaurants, stores, auto repair shops and other businesses in the Main Street corridor, many of which are owned and operated by Mexicans hailing from Oaxaca.

The Poughkeepsie-Oaxaca Friendship Committee designed the teacher exchange based on input from parents, educators and public officials.

Mayor Rob Rolison, said, “One of the most important things we do as residents of a community is to commit to the education of our children.” One quarter of all the school children in Poughkeepsie are Latinos, many from Mexico.

“This program will give our teachers the opportunity to learn about the history and culture of where their students and parents come from,” said Franky Perez, a counselor in the Poughkeepsie Middle School.

The teachers, Joyette Walton and Blanca Calderon, and Perez will spend a week in the city of Oaxaca and its surrounding villages, visiting schools, touring historic sites, and learning about the culture by staying in an Oaxacan home, visiting markets, artisan workshops and museums.

On their return to Poughkeepsie, the teachers will present what they learned with their colleagues, students and members of the community. They will also incorporate this material into their curriculum.

Their trip is being funded by the Vassar College Frances D. Fergusson Good Neighbors Partnerships and private donations.

“We hope this teacher exchange is the first of what will be many visits between our two cities,” said Eleanor Charwat of the Friendship Committee.

Anyone interested in learning more about Poughkeepsie’s Oaxacan connections is invited to attend La Guelaguetza, the eleventh annual Oaxacan corn festival, starting a 1 p.m. at Waryas Park on Sunday, August 4.  The festival attracts thousands to Poughkeepsie’s waterfront every year for a day of music, dance, food and crafts.

City of Poughkeepsie Files Lawsuit Against Opioid Manufacturers, Distributors

The City of Poughkeepsie has filed a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors, accusing the defendants of waging a deceptive marketing campaign designed to intentionally mislead doctors and the public about the dangers of highly addictive drugs.

The city is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for the money it spends each year to combat the public nuisance created by these practices. The lawsuit was filed in Dutchess County Supreme Court.

The city contends the defendants must be held accountable for the millions of dollars of costs related to opioid addiction and abuse, including health care, criminal justice and victimization, and lost productivity. Across the country, authorities have struggled to curb the flow of heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkillers that have taken their toll on people. The Centers for Disease Control says that about 142 Americans die every day from a drug overdose.

“The opioid crisis must be dealt with squarely,” said Mayor Rob Rolison. “The City of Poughkeepsie refuses to sit idly by while people are suffering, and we believe these specific pharmaceutical companies and their distributors are a big part of the problem.”

The city asserts that, through their marketing ploys, the defendants have created a false perception in the minds of physicians, patients and others involved in the health care system that it is safe to use opioids to treat chronic pain. The lawsuit says this unscrupulous effort began in the late 1990s but became more aggressive around 2006 and is ongoing.

The City of Poughkeepsie has retained the New York City law firm Napoli Shkolnik PLLC as special counsel. Napoli Shkolnik has filed similar lawsuits on behalf of other municipalities. 

 “We believe this is a prudent course of action considering what is at stake,” Rolison said. “Lives are being ruined, and public resources are being stretched to address this crisis. Opioid manufacturers and distributors must be held accountable for their actions.”

Mayor Rolison pointed out individuals are empowered to help in other ways. For instance, a statewide campaign encourages residents to carry naloxone – a medication that reverses opioid overdoses – to help curb the opioid epidemic. And people are encouraged to dispose of unwanted, unneeded or expired prescription drugs at various drop-off sites in the area. Such actions ensure those drugs won’t be used in inappropriate ways and can make a significant difference over time.

To read more about the case, go to https://bit.ly/2VY0bNg

For information about naloxone kits, call 1-877-846-7369 or visit www.CombatAddiction.ny.gov. The state also has a program that covers up to $40 in co-pay for naloxone.

For prescription drug drop-off locations, visit: http://dutchessny.gov/Departments/Stop-DWI/Docs/STOP-DWI-Prescription-Drug-Take-Back.pdf

City of Poughkeepsie Joins Hudson Valley Community Power Community Choice Aggregation Program

On Tuesday, May 14th, Hudson Valley Community Power, a new Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program, was launched. As of July 1, 2019, the default energy supply in the City of Poughkeepsie will be 100% renewable, sourced from New York State clean energy facilities.

Hudson Valley Community Power is a community-based bulk energy purchasing program aimed at advancing a local transition to renewable energy use, in the spirit of focused renewable energy efforts at the state level – all while lowering the electricity bills of residents and small businesses in the participating communities.

Hudson Valley Community Power allows the participating communities, which also include Beacon, Cold Spring, the Town of Fishkill, Philipstown, Marbletown, and Red Hook, to leverage the collective buying power of their homes and small businesses to negotiate energy supply rates, designate preferred generation sources, and select an Energy Services Company as the default electricity supplier. The City of Poughkeepsie will benefit from the collective buying power of its own community, as well as from joining with other municipalities to further leverage bulk buying power.

This launch is the result of a competitive procurement process, in which Joule Community (acting as Program Administrator) issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for energy suppliers to bid a more competitive price relative to the default energy supplier, Central Hudson, on behalf of the participating communities. As the result of this process, Direct Energy has been selected as the new default supplier for residents and small businesses in the City of Poughkeepsie.

In participating communities, the benchmark Central Hudson rate for the 12 months of April 2018-2019 was $0.06870. The new default fixed rate is $0.06361 and provides 100% New York renewably generated electricity.

Homeowners and small businesses who do not already have an agreement with a third party electricity supplier will be automatically enrolled in the program, but may opt out at any time with no penalty. Customers who have a contract with a third-party supplier must first exit that contract before electing to opt into the Community Choice program.

Mayor Rob Rolison said, “Lowering electric rates while at the same time sourcing 100% of our energy from renewable sources, is a win for everyone who participates and a win for the environment. New collaborations with our neighboring communities is a win for the entire region.”

Councilmember Sarah Salem (D-2nd Ward), who introduced the legislation in March of 2018 said, “This is an exciting moment for the City of Poughkeepsie. This program represents a paradigm shift to a local consumer energy choice system that is ushering a swift transition toward 100% renewable energy supply for the City of Poughkeepsie and all of our partnering municipalities. A Green New Deal for the Hudson Valley.”

For questions about the new program, or to opt-out, please contact Hudson Valley Community Power at 845-859-9099 or email them at    [email protected].