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Scenic Hudson Donates Ownership of Riverfront Park in Irvington

Jay Burgess
Director of Communications, Scenic Hudson, Inc.
Tel: (845) 473-4440 x222 Cell: (914) 489-0362 Fax: (845) 473-0740

Agreement ensures people, businesses will always benefit from popular destination

IRVINGTON (WESTCHETER COUNTY)—Providing communities with parks that offer access to the power and majesty of the Hudson River has been an integral part of Scenic Hudson’s mission for more than 25 years. Building upon efforts to facilitate the creation of public, municipally owned parks that offer substantial quality-of-life and economic benefits, the organization recently transferred ownership of Scenic Hudson Park at Irvington to the Village of Irvington. Scenic Hudson retains a conservation easement on the 12-acre property that ensures the land will permanently be used for public recreational, cultural and educational purposes.

Opened in 2001, Scenic Hudson Park at Irvington affords dramatic views of the Palisades and Manhattan skyline. It features universally accessible walking paths, ball fields, a basketball court and a senior center—all of which make it a very popular destination for village residents of all ages as well as employees of downtown businesses and visitors arriving via Metro-North Railroad. Its creation also reinforced the redevelopment of former factory buildings adjacent to the park into a vibrant mix of businesses, shops, restaurants, affordable housing and the village’s public library.

The village approached Scenic Hudson in 1997 after two contaminated industrial parcels previously used as a lumberyard, a warehouse and for bus storage were proposed as the site of a dense residential development. To help fulfill residents’ desire to establish Irvington’s Hudson Riverfront as a focal point for their community, Scenic Hudson negotiated and funded the $5.4-millon acquisition of the property as co-owner with the village. As part of the understanding, the village agreed to remediate the contaminated site and develop and maintain a public park. Assuming it met these conditions, the village would be granted full ownership of the park, subject to a conservation easement, at no cost after 20 years.

Following a speedy but significant process involving public participation to create a vision for the park, the village moved forward with design, remediation and construction in consultation with Scenic Hudson. Funding for the cleanup of contamination was supported by the first-ever grant from New York State’s Brownfield Cleanup Program. The village used federal Community Development Block Grant funding to renovate the building where the senior center is located.

“To say we are pleased with our partnership with Scenic Hudson would be an understatement. They provided much-needed funding and support at a time when we were staring down the largest capital undertaking in our history. It is safe to say that the project would not have happened without Scenic Hudson and it is not a coincidence that we decided to name the park after our great partner,” said Irvington Mayor Brian Smith.

“This is a cause for celebration! It is the culmination of a journey the Village of Irvington and Scenic Hudson began 20 years ago to save a riverfront property from development and transform it from a formerly contaminated lumberyard into a park and senior center that the community truly treasures. This is part of the ongoing story of reclaiming Hudson River waterfronts from their industrial past and a shining example of how land trusts and municipalities can work together to serve the public,” said Scenic Hudson Land Trust Executive Director Steve Rosenberg.

Irvington Village Administrator Lawrence Schopfer remarked, “Scenic Hudson Park has had a tremendous impact on our recreational offerings to our residents. Besides being a beautiful jewel on the Hudson River, it has opened up a whole new dimension for our residents to experience, from young children to our senior citizens.”

“For many years, Irvington’s senior citizens were searching for a facility that they could call their own. Our beautiful senior citizens center in Scenic Hudson Park is the perfect home for the many programs and activities that our vibrant senior population enjoys. Thanks go to Scenic Hudson and our other funding partners for making this happen,” said Irvington Senior Citizens Director Joan Armstrong.

Riverfront land protected by Scenic Hudson in Peekskill, Haverstraw now also municipal parks

This is the third community in the lower Hudson Valley where Scenic Hudson has helped connect residents and visitors to the river by creating a public park and eventually transferring ownership to the municipality. In Peekskill, its purchase of a 4.4-acre former industrial site in 1998 led to creation of Scenic Hudson Park at Peekskill Landing, transferred to the City of Peekskill in 2015. Also in 1998, Scenic Hudson’s acquisition of 1.5 acres adjacent to Emeline Park in the Village of Haverstraw, Rockland County, led to a doubling of the downtown park’s size. The organization transferred ownership of this land to the village in 2014. As with the land at Scenic Hudson Park in Irvington, Scenic Hudson holds a conservation easement on these properties that guarantees permanent public access for passive recreation. Scenic Hudson also was instrumental in orchestrating the relocation of a riverfront asphalt plant in Tarrytown that led to creation of the village’s 5.2-acre Scenic Hudson RiverWalk Park at Tarrytown.

“Scenic Hudson’s collaborative work in connecting communities to their riverfronts—in Westchester, Rockland and throughout the Hudson Valley—provides substantial benefits. In addition to promoting public health and offering residents opportunities to enjoy recreation and be inspired by the river’s majesty, waterfront parks contribute to the region’s $5.2-billion tourism economy and have been the catalyst for revitalizing downtowns by attracting new businesses and jobs,” said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan.

Also in Irvington, Scenic Hudson collaborated with the Open Space Institute and Westchester County in 2003 to conserve 27 acres of woodlands threatened by development. This property was combined with adjacent protected lands to create the 340-acre O’Hara Nature Center, the largest public nature preserve south of Route I-287 in Westchester.

About the Village of Irvington

The Village of Irvington is a small community located along the lower western edge of Westchester County, bordering the Hudson River about 20 miles north of New York City. The population of the village is 6,420 and is traversed by New York State Route 9, Interstate 87 (New York State Thruway) and the Saw Mill River Parkway. In addition, commuters are served by Metro-North Railroad, which provides access to New York City via the Hudson Line. The village is a suburban community and primarily residential in nature with a large number of residents working in New York City. It is characterized by its tranquil atmosphere, numerous green spaces and an absence of commercial strip development. It contains an impressive vista of homes, lawns and parks; the Old Croton Aqueduct; and many natural scenic and historic resources. It also includes an attractive central business district in full view of the Hudson River.

About Scenic Hudson

Scenic Hudson preserves land and farms and creates parks that connect people with the inspirational power of the Hudson River, while fighting threats to the river and natural resources that are the foundation of the valley’s prosperity. A crusader for the valley since 1963, we are credited with saving fabled Storm King Mountain from a destructive industrial project and launching the modern grass-roots environmental movement. Today with more than 25,000 ardent supporters, we are the largest environmental group focused on the Hudson River Valley. Our team of experts combines land acquisition, support for agriculture, citizen-based advocacy and sophisticated planning tools to create environmentally healthy communities, champion smart economic growth, open up riverfronts to the public and preserve the valley’s inspiring beauty and natural resources. To date Scenic Hudson has created or enhanced more than 65 parks, preserves and historic sites up and down the Hudson River and conserved more than 40,000 acres.