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City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Appoints Lawrence As City Historian

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison announced today that Tom Lawrence, Director of Poughkeepsie Public Library District, has been appointed City of Poughkeepsie Historian.

Lawrence will serve as a resource for the general public and will aid in the preservation of documents, maps, photographs and other materials relating to the city’s history.

“Tom Lawrence’s devotion to the community and his exceptional work with the Library District will serve him well as City Historian,” said Mayor Rolison.

Tom Lawrence – City of Poughkeepsie Historian

Lawrence, a native of Central New York, graduated from the College of St. Rose in Albany with a BA in Social Sciences, from the University of Oklahoma with a Masters in Library Science, and from Long Island University with a Certificate of Advanced Study on public library management.  He has held librarian positions in New York and Connecticut and has been at the Poughkeepsie Public Library District for the last 24 years.

“As City Historian, I want to work with members of the community to not only preserve the record of our past but to increase the awareness and understanding of the Queen City’s rich history as we explore the potential for its future,” he said.

Over the centuries, Poughkeepsie has transformed from a hamlet to a village to city. Poughkeepsie served as state capital following the burning of Kingston by the British in 1777. In 1788, members of the state convention in Poughkeepsie ratified the U.S. Constitution, with New York forging a new union with the original 13 colonies to become the United States of America. Among other significant landmarks, the city is the site of a Franklin D. Roosevelt-inspired Post Office; the Poughkeepsie Journal, the state’s oldest newspaper and the second oldest in the nation; and the Bardavon 1869 Opera House, the oldest continuously operating entertainment venue in the state,  “The city’s history is all around us, and it’s not just in the history books,” Mayor Rolison said. “But the documentation of the city’s history – and the preservation of that history – is critically important. Tom Lawrence has been one of the trusted caretakers of these records and artifacts. We are grateful he has accepted this appointment.”

City of Poughkeepsie Releases Applicant Submissions for Former YMCA site, Appoints Advisory Committee

The City of Poughkeepsie has released the applicant submissions 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 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.

35 Montgomery Street (Former YMCA Facility)

Dutchess County Legislator Barbara Jeter Jackson of the City of Poughkeepsie will chair the committee, which also will include 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.

 “I’m looking forward to hearing the committee’s recommendations – and also eager to hear what the public at large has to say about these ideas,” said City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison.

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.

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. 

During this process, the city 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 prevailing view at the public meetings was that the former YMCA site should be used again for youth activities in some respect. Residents have suggested everything from an indoor sports center arena to a place for employment and job-training programs.

To see the submissions go to:

To see suggested solutions offered during the public meetings go to

Statement by Mayor Rob Rolison Regarding Lawsuit for a Cleaner Hudson River

For decades, industrial pollution in the Hudson River has devastated the commercial fishing industry, and efforts to restore the majestic river to a healthier state have proven entirely unsatisfactory.

I commend the State of New York for filing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for prematurely issuing a ‘Certificate of Completion’ for the Hudson River PCB Cleanup.

General Electric should, indeed, conduct additional remediation to clean up the river.

Furthermore, I commend Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro’s decision to file an amicus-curiae brief in support of the state’s lawsuit. By doing so, on behalf of all county residents — including those living in the City of Poughkeepsie — the County Executive is appropriately emphasizing the economic and environmental impacts of the Hudson River on the area. Pronouncing GE’s cleanup of PCBs complete at this point is premature and not in the public’s best interest or health.

I also appreciate the steadfast work of environmental groups – including Riverkeeper, Clearwater and City of Poughkeepsie-based Scenic Hudson – in insisting for better remedies for our river.

The City of Poughkeepsie is among those communities relying on the Hudson River for drinking water. Making the river as clean as possible is in everyone’s interest – and should be everyone’s goal.”

Video Depicts Ties Between City of Poughkeepsie and Oaxaca, Mexico

Last year, the City of Poughkeepsie established a Poughkeepsie-Oaxaca Friendship City Committee, in recognition of the many people from that Mexican city who live or have ties to Poughkeepsie.

The committee, which includes city officials and community members, explores connections between the two cities. 

Two members of the Committee – Uriel Pinelo and Linda Marston-Reid — had separately planned vacations to Oaxaca and recently carried greetings on behalf of the City of Poughkeepsie to the mayor of Oaxaca.

For the trip, artist and filmmaker Jan Muller made a video that focuses on Poughkeepsie’s Oaxacan student body, its Oaxacan community members, and includes comment from City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison talking about the importance of education and acknowledging the vibrant Oaxacan community.

You can watch that video here:

Parade to Honor Poughkeepsie Pioneers – April 26, 2019

On Friday, April 26 at 4:00pm, the City of Poughkeepsie will host a parade in honor of the Poughkeepsie High School Basketball Team – our State Class A Champions. 

All participants and floats will gather at the Crannell Street parking lot at 4:00pm.  Step off will be at 4:15 pm from the Crannell Street lot.  The parade route will be from the Crannell lot to Catharine Street, down Main Street to City Hall at 62 Civic Center Plaza.   Mayor Rob Rolison will officiate a ceremony on the steps of City Hall in honor of the team. 

Rain date is confirmed for Friday, May 3, 2019. 

Congratulations to the Poughkeepsie Pioneers!

“It is with great pride I congratulate the Poughkeepsie High School Boys Basketball Team on winning the Class A New York State Championship over the weekend.  It is the first time that Poughkeepsie has captured a State title since 1995; and, it is the first time that any Dutchess County basketball team has won a State title since 1999. 

Our boys are not only winners on the court, but they also learned an important life lesson as they now enjoy the rewards of their many months of hard work, dedication, and resilience.

It is my hope that the entire City of Poughkeepsie will join me in congratulating our new State Champs. In the near future, the team will be invited to join me at the Mayor’s Office, and we will plan a parade to properly celebrate our champions.”

-Mayor Rob Rolison

Statement from Mayor Rolison Regarding Ongoing Police Investigation

The following is a statement by Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison regarding an ongoing investigation into an altercation between two Poughkeepsie City School students which occurred along the Eastbound Arterial Highway on Monday, March, 11th at approximately 4:00 p.m. 

At this time, it appears that during an altercation between two female students, which was viewed and video-recorded by a large group of individuals, two juveniles were arrested for interfering with the police effort to break-up the fight. The fight is believed to be a continuation of an earlier altercation involving the same two students in the 4:00 p.m. fight. The Poughkeepsie Police Department responded to the original altercation and successfully de-escalated the situation.

“The review of the incident is progressing in a timely but deliberate manner, and I am receiving frequent updates from Police Chief Pape and our City Administrator.  Additional video, as well as written witness statements and facts uncovered from a number of eye-witnesses have advanced our understanding of the situation. At this time, we are waiting for more information in this developing investigation, so that we may make a fair and reasonable judgement as to what actually occurred.”

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the residents of Poughkeepsie, members of our community, and community leaders for their patience and understanding while we continue to fully and thoroughly investigate this matter.”

Over $2 Million Awarded by New York State for City Projects

Continuing a trend of increasing grant revenue, more than $2 million dollars were awarded this week for development and green infrastructure projects in the City of Poughkeepsie.  The award announcement came during the most recent round of the New York State Consolidated Funding Applications.  A project at 33-35 Academy Street known as “The Hive” was awarded $1,205,000 to convert two vacant buildings into a food hall and market, brewery, co-working space and apartments in the heart of downtown.  Nearby, two city-owned parking lots will be retrofitted with green infrastructure elements to treat stormwater runoff onsite, helping to improve water quality in the Fall Kill and Hudson River.

Rendering of 33-35 Academy Street – “The Hive”

Mayor Rob Rolison said, “These latest grant awards demonstrate that New York State recognizes the upward trajectory of the City of Poughkeepsie.  Momentum and interest in our city continues to build, and we are seeing increasing private investment such as The Hive coming into downtown as well as other areas of the city.  For our part, the city is increasingly focused on sustainability and protecting the environment, such as through green infrastructure improvements to our downtown parking lots.  These two projects complement each other and demonstrate what can happen when the public and private sectors work together toward common goals.”

Mayor Rob Rolison Announces Judicial Appointment

Mayor Rob Rolison announces the appointment of Scott L. Volkman who was rated “highly qualified” by the Judicial Screening committee, to serve as a City of Poughkeepsie Court Judge.  Scott L.Volkman will fill the vacancy created by the mandatory retirement of Judge Thomas J. O’Neill on January 1, 2019.

Scott Volkman is an attorney and a lifelong resident of Poughkeepsie. He graduated from the University at Albany with a BA in political Science in 1982 and received his Juris Doctor from the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law in 1985. 

Continue reading Mayor Rob Rolison Announces Judicial Appointment

Celebration of Lights Parade & Fireworks – November 30, 2018

The City of Poughkeepsie in conjunction with the Bardavon 1869 Opera House and the Poughkeepsie River District Business Association will present the 25th annual Celebration of Lights Parade and Fireworks on Friday, November 30 at 6:30pm.  Each year thousands of people attend this popular, family-friendly event, voted by Dutchess County Tourism as the “Best Event” of the holiday season.

The line-up for the parade begins at 5:30pm and will commence at 6:30pm from the Crannell Street Parking Lot on Catharine Street and proceed down Main Street to the evening’s first Christmas tree lighting at Mural Square.   The Celebration of Lights Parade is led by City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison along with County Executive Marcus Molinaro and members of the City of Poughkeepsie Common Council.

The parade ends at Dongan Square Park at the intersection of Mill Street and North Clover Street where a second Christmas tree lighting will take place in conjunction with several short performances.  The festivities conclude with the area’s only winter fireworks being displayed along the Poughkeepsie waterfront.  These activities will take place at approximately 7:15pm.

Following the parade and fireworks at 8:00pm there will be a screening of Home Alone at the Bardavon 1869 Opera House for a price of $6 per person.  It is suggested to purchase tickets ahead of time as the movie tends to sell out.

Traffic Advisory

The parade will assemble in the city parking lot at Crannell St., beginning around 5:30PM and will step off at 6:30 PM.

The parade will pause at Mural Sq. on Main St. for a brief tree lighting ceremony and then continue to its final destination at Dongan Park. During the parade, Main St will be closed from Academy St. to N. Clover St., and North Clover St will be closed from Main St. to Mill St. Mill St. from N. Perry St. to Verrazano Blvd will be closed for the duration of the event, including the parade and fireworks, which will be setting off approximately 7:30PM.

During the event, heavy delays are to be expected in the downtown area, including Mill St., Columbus Dr. (Rt 44/55 westbound), Main St. and points west. Alternate routes to the Poughkeepsie Train Station are strongly urged during this time period. Rinaldi Blvd and North Water St. via Rt 9 access to the lower river front area is likely the best alternate route to get to the train station.