Director of Communications, Scenic Hudson, Inc.
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Amenities at National Register property offer innovative museum-like experience in stunning natural setting and include audiovisual tour accessible via Web-enabled mobile devices
COLD SPRING—Officials from Scenic Hudson, the Village of Cold Spring and New York State were joined by other project supporters and the community in a ribbon cutting for a new $3.6-million park at Scenic Hudson's West Point Foundry Preserve. The event marked the park's reopening following a 15-month construction initiative to create a dynamic outdoor educational destination within a beautiful 87-acre property. The park's new exciting interpretive features tell stories of the foundry's contributions to America's Industrial Revolution, its role in the Civil War (including an 1862 visit by President Abraham Lincoln) and the land's remarkable ecological renewal.
In addition to the interpretive elements, the new park features gathering areas, native plantings, stabilized historic ruins and a universally accessible trail connecting to the popular Metro-North train station at Cold Spring—all these elements designed to not detract from the site's natural serenity and inspiring beauty. The ribbon cutting also launched a Web-based audiovisual tour—available using any Web-enabled mobile device—that brings to life the sights and sounds of the West Point Foundry. The tour is available at www.foundrytour.org.
Foundry a leader in nation's Industrial Revolution
Located on a dramatic forested site crossed by Foundry Brook, West Point Foundry Preserve is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The park contains the extensive remains of the 19th-century ironworks that was a pacesetter in America's Industrial Revolution, manufacturing cannons (Parrott guns) credited with helping to win the Civil War, some of the nation's first steam engines, pipes for New York City's water system and machinery essential for the cotton and sugar industries. The foundry's owners also were business pioneers, among the first to control every aspect of manufacturing—from raw material to product distribution.
The new West Point Foundry Preserve provides a major opportunity for area residents to connect more fully with Cold Spring's heritage. The foundry was responsible for the village's growth—it has been called one of America's first "company towns." For its expanding workforce, foundry leaders built houses, churches and a school, and Main Street shops catered to their needs. Many of these buildings continue to serve the community.
Park design stimulates the mind and senses
Scenic Hudson park planners worked with a team of experts led by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects of New York City on the design for the park. Visitors will learn about the foundry's industrial significance while they also experience the inspiring natural beauty of surrounding forests, Foundry Brook and the Hudson Highlands.
Historic paths and rail lines have been reinterpreted to connect stabilized building ruins and provide access as outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. A series of graphic panels and unique sculptural pieces, built to scale, show how the foundry's water wheels and gun testing platform worked. Displays also educate visitors about how Foundry Cove has been recovering from pollution caused by a former 20th-century factory nearby.
Other features of the new park include benches, overlooks and a gathering area with shade trees and picnic tables designed for school groups. The park is one of more than 60 that Scenic Hudson has created or enhanced along the Hudson River from Yonkers to the Capital Region.
Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, "We're very grateful to the generous individuals, foundation and government donors, and partners who made this park possible. The project demonstrates the benefits of Governor Cuomo's Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council and its 'green circle' strategy to focus resources on job creation through the Hudson Valley's great natural, historic and cultural treasures."
Scenic Hudson Land Trust Executive Director Steve Rosenberg said, "It's a great thrill to take this already popular park to a new level. This place tells a remarkable story as a cradle of the Industrial Revolution, and it's a testament to the power of nature and restoration. With our partners we've created a must-see destination for all who wish to explore the fascinating stories of our nation's and our region's past. The results also will be enjoyed by local residents, who will benefit from the jobs and tax revenues that will stem from the boost this world-class park will give to tourism in Cold Spring and Putnam County."
The park has an important role in the local economy. Parks, recreational areas and historic sites are engines of the Hudson Valley's $4.3-billion tourism economy that employs 80,000 people. In Putnam County alone, tourism generates $54 million in spending annually that sustains nearly 1,200 jobs. Parks also contribute to the region's iconic scenic beauty and excellent quality of life, prime attractions for maintaining and expanding businesses as well as selling new businesses on relocating here.
Valley contractors used for project
Meyer Contracting Corp. of Pleasant Valley constructed all aspects of the new park, with the exception of the universally accessible trail connecting the train station to the center of the new park. That trail was built by Con-Tech Construction Technology, Inc. of Yorktown Heights. In addition, subcontractors and suppliers were local to the community or the Hudson Valley.
Public-private partnership makes park possible
Scenic Hudson invested more than $5.2 million in acquiring the foundry property (in several acquisitions between 1996 and 2009) and undertaking activities that included sponsoring seven years of archeological field study and preserving and stabilizing historic elements.
New York State through the New York State Environmental Protection Fund was a major investor in the park project. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation provided Scenic Hudson with two grants totaling $850,000.
The J.M. Kaplan Fund provided Scenic Hudson with a $100,000 grant. Other private contributors were essential to the park's construction.
To create the path that connects the train station and the park, Scenic Hudson collaborated with Putnam County, the New York State Department of State (NYS DOS) and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and Metro-North Railroad. NYS DOS contributed $125,000 via a grant from the Environmental Protection Fund.
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation Taconic Regional Director Linda Cooper said, "The state was pleased to partner with Scenic Hudson on two Environmental Protection Fund grants that enabled the preservation and interpretation of a critically important remaining 19th-century foundry established by President James Madison. At the new park, the public will find this important part of our cultural history come alive."
"The New York Department of State is excited about the opening of the new park and completion of an accessible trail at West Point Foundry Preserve," said New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales. "The newly finished trail provides a new access between mass transportation and other amenities in the Village of Cold Spring and the Foundry Preserve. Our collaboration with Scenic Hudson exemplifies the state's commitment to providing local municipalities with financial and technical support for projects that will have a lasting impact on the region's tourism and overall economy."
"The Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council is pleased to see the opening of this industrial heritage park and tourism attraction," said Mid-Hudson Regional Council Co-Chairs Dennis Murray, Ph.D., president, Marist College, and Leonard S. Schleifer, M.D., Ph.D., founder, president and CEO, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. "Our parks and waterfront are invaluable tourism and economic development assets to this region, and this project will not only provide an educational and recreational destination but will also ensure its historic elements are preserved for all visitors to experience and enjoy. We congratulate Scenic Hudson, Putnam County and all the partners involved in bringing new life to the park at historic West Point Foundry Preserve."
"On behalf of the Village of Cold Spring, I congratulate Scenic Hudson on opening of the West Point Foundry Preserve," said Cold Spring Mayor J. Ralph Falloon. "Scenic Hudson should be applauded for their tireless efforts to bring back to life the West Point Foundry, which is an integral part of this community's history. Our community looks forward to experiencing, through the interpretive exhibits, the life and work of our forefathers. I'm confident this site will become an important educational resource within the Hudson Valley."
Deputy Putnam County Executive Bruce Walker said, "We partnered with Scenic Hudson to acquire the grant that would allow them to connect the park to the train station in Cold Spring. So now you can actually get off the train and walk to the Foundry Preserve, enjoying views of the Hudson and the marshlands."
Commenting on the tourism impacts, Putnam Tourism Director Libby Pataki remarked, "The West Point Foundry Preserve is one of Putnam County's major historical resources of national significance. With this new Scenic Hudson park in place, we expect it to contribute strongly to the county's major hub for heritage tourism, drawing visitors from within our communities and beyond."
Putman History Museum Executive Director Mindy Krazmien said, "The Putnam History Museum is dedicated to the history of the West Point Foundry, and we are delighted with the opening of Scenic Hudson's West Point Foundry Preserve heritage park. This unique site played a pivotal role in our nation's history, and we look forward to supporting Scenic Hudson's efforts to bring that history to a broad audience."
"The railroad has been a proud partner with Scenic Hudson for more than 15 years in making Foundry Cove and Manitou Marsh more accessible," said Metro-North President Howard Permut. "This latest improvement will put to better use the ramp that we built years ago from the northbound platform to the park. The new path will make it even easier for people to take the train to one of the most beautiful parks along the Hudson River and gives the community a new pedestrian approach to the station."
Frederic C. Rich, chair of the Scenic Hudson Land Trust, has been a longtime supporter of the project. In fact a number of partners with the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, where Mr. Rich is a partner, donated to the park initiative in his honor. Mr. Rich said, "With these improvements, West Point Foundry Preserve offers an extraordinary opportunity for people to connect with the history and scenic beauty of the Hudson Highlands in a single, magnificent place. Of equal importance, the new park's proximity to a major remediated Superfund site will remind visitors that nature is tough, and with a little help from man, even the most damaged places can be restored to health."
Scenic Hudson Board Chairman Jim Goodfellow said, "The foundry is a spectacular example of American innovation and ingenuity, and this new park captures that history vividly." Mr. Goodfellow also spoke about the new park in relation to others Scenic Hudson has created nearby. "For those who live in this area or visit, Scenic Hudson has created a great collection of parks where one can experience natural beauty, wildlife and outdoor recreation while also learning about the valley's celebrated heritage. Now West Point Foundry Preserve joins other nearby Scenic Hudson parks—Foundry Dock Park, Mount Beacon, Fishkill Ridge, Madam Brett and Long Dock—in providing a world of discovery right in our own backyard."
Mathews Nielsen Principal Kim Mathews said, "Today, we're opening a new heritage park that reveals the natural beauty of West Point Foundry Preserve and traces its important history. Since 2006, the design team and Scenic Hudson have worked closely with archeologists and a long list of partners in developing the rich interpretive moments that we believe will delight visitors year-round. We're thrilled with the park and invite visitors to travel back in time as they experience the scale and stories of this remarkable valley landscape."