Rolison Highlights Development Progress

POUGHKEEPSIE – City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison gave his State of the City address Thursday at Changepoint Theatre, highlighting the administration’s accomplishments and updating the public on the progress being made on a variety of projects.

The mayor cited “the stabilization of the city’s finances” that offered a chance to make “vital investments in city government.”
These investments include:

* A retention program bringing police salaries in line with their peers and adding nine officers to the force.

* The establishment of an Anti-Blight Task Force that has led to an inventory of vacant buildings and a careful study about how to deal with those buildings.

* The city’s takeover of the former YMCA building on Montgomery Street. The city will issue a Request for Expressions of Interest to the development community and other stakeholders. The Myor noted he created a new youth grant program in 2018, increased such funding in 2019 and will ask the Common Council to do so again in 2020.

* The creation of the city’s first “Director of Community Engagement,” in partnership with Dutchess County. Former Poughkeepsie Journal Opinion Engagement Editor John Penney began that role on March 18 and will handle community outreach for the city, among other tasks.

Rolison also cited numerous development projects that emerged in the city, including the rehabilitation of the historic Trolley Barn on Main Street and the “HIVE” Project on the corner of Academy and Church streets. Other projects, such as 40 Cannon St., are transforming long-vacant structures into mixed uses of businesses and residential units, bringing new life to the city.

Rolison said the Common Council recently approved the new Poughkeepsie Innovation District zoning for the city’s downtown, which will make it easier for projects to be approved in this key area of the city.

He said Vassar Brothers Medical Center’s new patient-pavilion is taking form, and he pointed out that Marist College and Health Quest announced their plans to establish a new medical school next to the hospital as well.

Regarding waterfront development, Rolison said the “One Dutchess Avenue” project – the transformation of an old lumberyard on the riverside to a residential community – is well underway. But he said the city still needs to update its Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan and “finally bring to a conclusion our city’s long debate surrounding the southern waterfront’s development.”

Toward the end of the speech, Rolison was joined by The Poughkeepsie High School Basketball Team to celebrate their New York State Class “A” Championship, describing them as “a group of young men who epitomize what working together is all about.”

Reflecting on his first term in office, the Mayor said, “Four years ago, we accepted the challenge – a considerable challenge – to turn the city’s misfortunes into something more positive. Today, Poughkeepsie has momentum.” Rolison said “There is a flurry of activity at City Hall. There is real buzz in that building. There is an energy and enthusiasm that was not there three years ago.”

He added, “The credit belongs to the 365 employees of this great city who take pride in their work and service to our community. The credit belongs to the more than 30,000 residents who call Poughkeepsie home and share our passion to work together for our common good. The credit belongs to you.”

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