Scenic Hudson to Begin Constructing Park on Beacon's Waterfront

Friday, July 23, 2010 -- Scenic Hudson

Project will bring group's total investment to $16.5 million in transforming former industrial site into community asset that fuels waterfront and Main Street revitalization

While park closed for 10-12 months, walking trail will remain open

BEACON -- At the end of this month, Scenic Hudson will begin constructing a new park on a 25-acre peninsula it owns on the Beacon waterfront. Approximately 75 construction jobs -- the vast majority from the Mid-Hudson Valley -- will be created as the nonprofit land preservation and environmental group invests $8.5 million to create beautiful natural areas, enhance river access and open a new center for environmental arts and education. The park -- already popular with local and out-of-town visitors and an "outdoor classroom" for city schools -- will help connect the people to stunning vistas of the Hudson River and Hudson Highlands while helping bring more people to the city's Main Street business district. The group acknowledged some inconveniences that would arise from the park construction but pledged to work hard to manage these issues.

Exciting new riverfront amenities that will also clean water, environment

Created by a team of noted park designers and architects, the new park will serve as a model for sustainable design and land management. Reflecting this high benchmark, the project has been selected to participate in a pilot program testing the nation's first system for green landscape design, construction and management. Scenic Hudson's Long Dock Park was chosen for the Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™) pilot as one of 150 projects in 34 states that seek to create landscapes that can clean water, reduce pollution and restore habitat while providing significant economic and social benefits to land owners and municipalities. Once finished in spring 2011, Scenic Hudson's Long Dock Park will feature a new pavilion, a kayaking center, a restored barn for environmental education and arts programming, extensive rehabilitation of wetlands and meadows, and self-guided displays that tell the story of the site's history, ecology and sustainable design. "We've already initiated a cleanup of an abandoned industrial site here. Now we're proud to be creating a special place where people will relax, picnic, fish and enjoy the inspiring beauty that has earned the Hudson its national reputation," said Ned Sullivan. "This project also will be an economic engine helping bring more people to Dia and the city's Main Street restaurants and shops. The city and generous public and private funders are working with us to create this great green resource."

Valley construction team, valley jobs

Kirchoff-Consigli Construction Management of Pleasant Valley will oversee the variety of firms working on the new park. Firms on the design team include civil engineering firm Divny, Tung Schwalbe of White Plains; environmental remediation consultants Ecosystems Strategies of Poughkeepsie; planning consultant Matthew D. Rudikoff Associates of Beacon; and marine engineering firm McLaren Engineering Group of West Nyack. The design team is led by Reed Hilderbrand Associates, Watertown, Mass., in collaboration with ARO (Architecture Research Office), New York City. In addition to the total of 75 construction professionals who will be on the site through various phases, local food establishments and other vendors will likely gain business from the project during its one-year duration. By preserving land and creating parks through its campaign to Save the Land That Matters Most, Scenic Hudson also is contributing to a robust tourism industry in the valley that is responsible for $4.7 billion in annual spending and 80,000 jobs. In Dutchess County alone, the tourism industry is responsible for $447 million in spending each year, generating $29 million annually in local taxes and employing nearly 10,000 people. Protected lands also help secure the valley's place in the new green economy. A recent study by the Trust for Public Land notes that executives looking to relocate or start up firms rank quality of life -- including an abundance of parks and open space -- higher than housing, cost of living and good schools.

Managing short-term inconveniences

Scenic Hudson will work with contractors so construction vehicles avoid peak traffic times near the Metro-North train station. For the safety of the public, the current park land will be fenced off and closed on Monday, August 2. Residents and visitors will still be able to enjoy the Klara Sauer Trail, a one-mile trail that can be accessed at the Metro-North train station via the parking lot on the river side of the tracks. "Creating this park is the culmination of many years of collaboration between the City of Beacon and Scenic Hudson as well as local residents, business owners and civic groups. We are grateful to residents who have volunteered more than 1,000 hours collectively to clean the shoreline and meadows at this site," said Mr. Sullivan. "We ask for people's patience during the work phase and know that in the end we'll all feel great pride in a park that contributes to a vibrant city, a bustling Main Street and schools that gain from hands-on learning about our wondrous Hudson."

Park still leaves room for green hotel, currently on hold

While the current downturn in the real estate economy has sidelined a developer's plans to build a green hotel/conference center on the Long Dock property, the new park leaves room for this to be pursued in the future. The developer remains interested in creating a facility that would provide rooms and conference space for the city while also featuring leading standards for environmental and energy design.

Contributors saluted for making park vision a reality

Scenic Hudson highlighted an extensive list of public and private contributors to Long Dock Park:
  • NYS Empire State Development Corporation
  • NYS Dormitory Authority (through a capital grant secured by state Sen. Steve Saland)
  • NYS Department of State Division of Coastal Resources Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) grant
  • NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) EPF grant
  • The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation
  • Dutchess County Industrial Development Agency
  • The Jane W. Nuhn Charitable Trust
The $8 million Scenic Hudson has spent to date to acquire the 25-acre property and stabilize and remediate the site was made possible through the support of the Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Fund for the Hudson Highlands.

Business and community leaders comment on the project

"This collaborative effort to enhance Long Dock Beacon will be a win-win for the region and the local economy. The park will further showcase the unsurpassed beauty of the Hudson River Valley and undoubtedly draw more visitors to the area. Once again, it has been a pleasure to work with Scenic Hudson on a project that spearheads development for the dual purpose of providing greater access to our riverfront while generating long-term economic benefits to the surrounding communities," said Sen. Steve Saland. "At a time when municipalities are struggling to locate funds for public improvement projects, Scenic Hudson's work on Long Dock Park will lift the city to new heights of environmental appreciation and provide access for the enjoyment and recreation of the Hudson River! The City of Beacon says thank you to Scenic Hudson and the coalition of state, county and private funding sources that made it possible," said Beacon Mayor Steve Gold. "The Department of State is pleased to have provided funding and guidance to the City of Beacon and Scenic Hudson as they redevelop the waterfront brownfield at Long Dock. This exciting park development, guided by sustainable design principles and informed by broad community participation, will be a cornerstone of the new Beacon waterfront," said New York Secretary of State Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez. "Our chamber has long supported this project -- and we're excited to learn that construction of the new park will soon begin. Closing the park is a short-term inconvenience versus the job creation that this project will generate, as well as the long-term benefits that this park will bring to residents and business owners in the City of Beacon and the surrounding area," said Ann Meagher, president of the Greater Southern Dutchess Chamber of Commerce. "The development of this park will provide an economic boost for the business community. There has been a large increase of tourism in Beacon -- people who not only look for shops and restaurants, but are also here for the beauty of the river, the trails and the mountain. Long Dock Park will be one more reason for tourists to come and enjoy the city. The Beacon Chamber of Commerce is very excited about this project and thanks our friends at Scenic Hudson for all their hard work," said Ron Iarossi, president of the Beacon Chamber of Commerce. "This project will be another great reason for friends and tourists to keep visiting our area. Just this weekend I brought out-of-town family members to the waterfront sculpture park and they were amazed at the beauty and accessibility to the river that we have. As a Main Street business owner, I always want more people to have reasons to visit and stay in our town. I speak with many tourists who spend time at Dia, and then ask what else is there to do. What better than to offer them a beautiful place to walk, play or simply sit and appreciate the river," said Jessica Reisman, owner of Homespun Foods. "I will miss Scenic Hudson's Long Dock Park during construction -- yes! But every enhancement to it has been wonderful and the future plans are so exciting. I look forward to the changes, including the Red Barn becoming an arts and environmental center. Beacon is very lucky to have such a wonderful riverfront that is being preserved and enhanced for all of the city and the Hudson Valley to enjoy," said Linda T. Hubbard, co-owner of RiverWinds Gallery in Beacon and president of the Beacon Arts Community Association.

Scenic Hudson in Beacon for 20 years

Also on the city's waterfront, Scenic Hudson partnered with the city, state OPRHP, Metro-North and Central Hudson to create the riverside Klara Sauer Trail. Scenic Hudson also secured funds for the city's harbor and promoted the redevelopment plan for the Metro-North train station. The group also convened a coalition of local, region and state groups that worked to attract the world-class art museum Dia:Beacon. Scenic Hudson's Madam Brett Park is a 12-acre property with a protected waterfall and marsh on Fishkill Creek, an important Hudson tributary. Scenic Hudson's Mount Beacon park is a 235-acre parcel that includes the dramatic summit that gave the city its name. More than 2,000 acres of breathtaking Hudson Highlands scenery adjacent to the city also have been preserved by Scenic Hudson for public enjoyment. "We've created a constellation of magnificent parks accessible to residents and visitors to Beacon. Each year a Scenic Hudson educator brings hundreds of city students in grades 1-5 to these parks to learn about the ecosystems and the Hudson River estuary. More and more, Beacon is becoming a place people want to come to live, work and have fun in the outdoors," said Mr. Sullivan.