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Photo: Jeff Mertz / Scenic Hudson

Malcolm X Park Hosts New Moments of Joy

The mainstay park of Poughkeepsie's Northside neighborhood is buzzing after a recent refresh.

by Reed Sparling

Malcolm X said, “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.”

A unique partnership responsible for the revitalization of Malcolm X Park in the City of Poughkeepsie — whose reopening was celebrated at three recent events — has ensured it can help provide a brighter future for children and families in the surrounding Northside neighborhood.

Aerial view of Malcolm X Park. (Photo: Jeff Mertz)

On June 8, representatives of the City of Poughkeepsie, New City Parks, and Scenic Hudson — the three groups spearheading the park improvements — jointly cut a ribbon to mark completion of the work. At the event, Seth McKee, executive director of The Scenic Hudson Land Trust and Land Programs, said, “Malcolm X spoke of pride, of autonomy, and of reconciliation. This park honors his name by providing opportunities for people to connect with the outdoors and with each other.”

Wildlife exploration was part of an afternoon of family-friendly activities on July 9, 2023. (Photo: Jeff Mertz / Scenic Hudson)
The park has been continuously active since its reopening. On July 9, Northside residents were invited to an afternoon of family-friendly activities — food, music, lawn games, face-painting, a pickup basketball game, and wildlife exploration — at the “new” park. Despite some afternoon downpours, nearly 100 people came out to enjoy the festivities. Many community groups and businesses pitched in to make the event special. They included Beulah Baptist Church, The Brain and Body Coalition, Community Matters 2, Empire Jamaican Fusion Restaurant, Hudson Valley ReEntry Network, MASS Design, and the NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program.
Since then, other community events have blossomed in the park, including basketball workshops and tournaments with Curtiz Simpson, as well as a July 15 Community Reunion celebration organized by Esperanza Dutchess County Hispanic Organization.

Chess is among the games that visitors have recently played at the park. (Photo: Jeff Mertz / Scenic Hudson)
The revitalization of Malcolm X Park, which had suffered from years of deferred maintenance, came about after Northside residents expressed the need for welcoming places for children to play, and for families and the community to come together. Organizations such as the Hudson Valley ReEntry Network and the Beulah Baptist Church have been advocating for park improvements since the late 2010s. In 2020, the City of Poughkeepsie committed to restoring it, with technical and financial support from New City Parks and Scenic Hudson.

The Northside park also features a community mural. (Photo: Jeff Mertz / Scenic Hudson)
New park features include bleachers around the refurbished basketball courts, playground equipment, a pavilion, walking path, benches and tables (including chess tables), and trees and native shrubs. In addition, a mural designed and painted by the community honors Malcolm X. The New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation provided a Green Innovation Grant to the city to design and build bio swales and rain gardens that will mitigate the impacts of extreme storm events by retaining, absorbing, and dispersing water in the event of a flood of the adjacent Fall Kill Creek.
The City will maintain and manage the park with ongoing community stewardship from Beulah Baptist Church, which will maintain the flower beds, and from local park steward Donte Artist, from the Student Conservation Association, who will be helping to keep the park clean.

The new features received raves from one recent celebrity visitor: New York Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado, who not only toured the improvements but delayed his departure to join youth on the basketball court. He also praised the collaboration responsible for creating a place that will carry on the legacy of its namesake. “We’re talking about empowering communities. We’re talking about creating healthier, safer environments and enriching communities and families,” he said.

Reed Sparling is a staff writer and historian at Scenic Hudson. He is the former editor of Hudson Valley Magazine, and currently co-edits the Hudson River Valley Review, a scholarly journal published by the Hudson River Valley Institute at Marist College.


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