Newburgh, New York

Centering a creek as a key community asset in a storied riverfront city

In Newburgh, we are igniting a passion for nature in this historic city. We’re working with community members to plan for climate resilient neighborhoods and increase access to open spaces that offer an oasis from heat, manage stormwater, provide habitat, and improve air quality. One focal point for these efforts is the planning of the Quassaick Creek Greenway, a 2.5 mile open space and trail network along Newburgh’s urban waterway.

Quassaick Creek runs through Newburgh before flowing into the Hudson River and forms the municipal border between the City and the Town of New Windsor. We are advancing the long-held community vision for the Quassaick Creek Greenway through a strategy to create a park and trail network to provide neighborhood access to the creek, restore the creek’s ecosystem, and provide a link to upland forests from the Hudson waterfront. Scenic Hudson is partnering with community members, design experts, ecologists, and local stakeholders to ensure the design and implementation strategy is reflective of a community vision and meets the open space needs of Newburgh and New Windsor residents while enhancing the landscape into a functional and resilient ecosystem. 

Included in the Quassaick Creek watershed and the greenway vision is Crystal Lake — once a popular swimming spot but virtually abandoned since the 1970s — and adjacent Snake Hill, which offers stunning views of the city, river, and the Hudson Highlands.

At Crystal Lake, local activists, the City and other community stakeholders have collaborated to:

  • Plan, build, and improve trails and a community garden 
  • Maintain a gateway and parking area
  • Install new bike racks and benches
  • Install new signage
  • Support community events on site, including the popular Winterfest and Juneteenth celebrations, the latter led by the community
  • Participate in community cleanups (we’ve already removed 1,250 pounds of litter from the shores of Crystal Lake)

The community farm alongside Crystal Lake is thriving. Local teens are learning about the importance of agriculture while growing fresh produce. We’ve turned stewardship of the farm over to the Ecological Citizen’s Project, and it is now known as the Sanctuary Healing Farm & Gardens at Crystal Lake. There is also a community-led effort to designate up to 109 acres of municipally-owned lands around Crystal Lake as a public park.

We are continuing our commitment to work alongside local youth to steward Newburgh’s green spaces by supporting pathways to learn from and maintain public space and the urban forest. In addition to our community engagement efforts tied to the Quassaick Creek Greenway, we support numerous environmental education programs that are advancing youth leadership and stewardship in the city:

  • We participate in the Greater Newburgh Parks Conservancy’s (GNPC) partner roundtable where we collaborate with other environmental justice and open space leaders to align efforts. GNPC has been a leader in street tree planting and coordinating a Environmental Justice Fellowship, two programs that we are proud to support. Last fall, we participated in the planting of ten trees in front of South Middle School.
  • We are working with the Newburgh Urban Farm and Food Initiative (NUFFI) on a community task force to guide comprehensive planning around urban agriculture and food systems.
  • We created, in collaboration with the City and the GNPC, an open space inventory, assessment, and improvement guide to help the City of Newburgh and local park advocates collaborate on improving the parks and open space network.
  • We are a community partner in the Newburgh Wants a Park Campaign, a grassroots effort calling for park dedication of municipal lands around Crystal Lake.